Accessibility links

Breaking News


EU Stakes Hopes On Sarkozy's Mission To Moscow

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (right) and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner in Avignon
The European Union's 27 foreign ministers have ended their two-day informal meeting in Avignon with a show of unity ahead of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Moscow and Tbilisi on September 8.

Sarkozy, accompanied by other top EU officials, will make another effort to persuade Russia to abide by the terms of the cease-fire and remove its forces from Georgian territory.

But ministers and officials privately admit the chances of success are slim.

For the time being, unity is arguably the European Union's most potent weapon in its standoff with Russia.

That is perhaps best understood at this point by the EU's eastern member states, traditionally critical of Russia.

They closed ranks behind the bloc's French presidency in anticipation of Sarkozy's mission to Moscow.

Key to Sarkozy's efforts is securing a phased pullout of Russian troops, first from within Georgia proper and later -- in part, at least -- from Georgia's breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The EU stands ready to contribute observers to an OSCE mission currently in the process of being deployed in Georgia, and on September 15 will also formally declare itself ready to send its own, separate team of 200 monitors to the country.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after the meeting in Avignon that he expects Russia to comply with the EU requests in short order.

"I do hope that we will not have to discuss the issue of dispatching the monitoring mission in the course of the coming weeks and months," Steinmeier said. "I believe that the phased six-point plan [requiring] the withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper into South Ossetia and Abkhazia is something Russia must accept -- as it has itself agreed to this -- and assume that Russia will [also] proceed from this in making its own decisions."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner refused to speculate about how long the EU is willing to wait. "We will wait until [September 8] -- at least. Then we will see," he said in response to a reporter's question in Avignon.

The signs emanating from Moscow are not encouraging.

Apart from increasingly defiant rhetoric from President Dmitry Medvedev, Russian officials and diplomats have made clear that they disagree with the EU's interpretation of the six-point cease-fire negotiated by Sarkozy on August 12.

Crucially, Moscow says the cease-fire entitles it to a continued military presence in a "buffer zone" abutting the territory of South Ossetia along its border with Georgia. Russian checkpoints have in recent days turned back EU diplomats trying to enter the area. They also block deliveries of humanitarian aid by international organizations.

The foreign minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, who currently also chairs the OSCE, told his EU colleagues over the course of the meeting that Russia continues to stymie the build-up of the organization's monitoring mission from its present 28 members to the full strength of 100. According to the terms of the cease-fire, Russia will only withdraw its troops from Georgia proper once a full international monitoring presence is in place.
The EU's hopes are pinned on Sarkozy.

No official appeared prepared to contemplate the cost of possible failure when Sarkozy goes to Moscow. The EU is already in uncharted waters and, for the time being at least, there are few signs of division. Informally, ministers from Eastern Europe stressed that they do not hold France responsible for the current impasse. On the contrary, one said that the EU can count itself lucky it did not find itself headed by a smaller country on August 8.

"[There are] no grounds to abandon the unity that has been encouragingly on display," Steinmeier said. "You see this in the shared position of the [ministers], the readiness [of the member states] to participate in the missions, and lastly also in the interest shown here in clarifying what took place in the region in early August."

But that unity could crumble if the EU's stance proves ineffectual in Moscow. Some officials in Avignon were speaking of the need for a "Plan B."

Given the paucity of the levers at the EU's disposal, however, any alternate plan is likely to be confined to a further freeze in relations. After EU leaders suspended partnership talks with Russia on September 1, some Eastern European countries have sought a halt to talks on visa-free travel, scientific cooperation, and more equal treatment for Russia in the area of financial cooperation.

The EU ministers also broadly agreed to move ahead with easing the current visa restrictions on Georgia and establish free trade with that country. A donors' conference will be held for Georgia in October, and the EU pledged 100 million euros ($143 million) in aid.

There were also calls to offer Ukraine a clear -- if distant -- prospect for EU membership at the EU-Ukraine summit at Evian on September 9. Such a move is likely to be blocked by the Benelux countries and others skeptical of further enlargement or unwilling to antagonize Russia.

The ministers also urged a thaw in the bloc's chilly relations with Belarus, where strongman President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has recently released a number of political prisoners. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the EU is looking at ways to "reward" Minsk for its actions. EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner went further, saying said it is time to reopen a high-level political dialogue with Belarus.

More News

Russian Business Offers Cash Bounties To Destroy Western Tanks In Ukraine

A U.S. Abrams tank fires during a NATO military exercise in Latvia in 2021.

A Russian company said it will offer 5 million rubles (about $72,000) in cash to the first soldiers who destroy or capture Western-made tanks in Ukraine, after the Kremlin vowed Russian forces would wipe out any Western tanks shipped to Ukraine. The United States, Germany, and several other European countries are lining up to send Kyiv dozens of advanced combat tanks over the next few months to help boost Ukraine's military capacity. The decision has been criticized by the Kremlin as a dangerous escalation. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Britain's Boris Johnson Says Putin Threatened Him With Missile Strike

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the International Libya Conference in Berlin in January 2020.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine. Johnson said Putin had asked him about the prospects of Ukraine joining NATO, to which he had responded it would not be "for the foreseeable future." "He threatened me at one point, and he said, 'Boris, I don't want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute' or something like that," Johnson said. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Russia Says Nuclear Arms Treaty With U.S. May End After 2026

This photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry on February 19, 2022, shows a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile being launched from an air field during military drills.

Russia's deputy foreign minister said in an interview published on January 30 that it was "quite possible" the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States would end after 2026. "This is quite a possible scenario," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA news agency. U.S.-Russia talks on resuming inspections under the treaty, which expires in February 2026, were called off at the last minute in November 2022. Neither side has agreed on a time frame for new talks. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Germany Won't Send Fighter Jets To Ukraine, Says Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (file photo)

Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated on January 29 that Germany will not send fighter jets to Ukraine, as Kyiv steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West to help repel Russia's invasion. Scholz only just agreed on January 25 to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other European countries to send theirs, after weeks of intense debate and mounting pressure from allies. "I can only advise against entering into a constant bidding war when it comes to weapons systems," Scholz said in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper. To read the original story from AFP, click here.

Ukraine's Zelenskiy Attacks Idea That Russia Could Compete In 2024 Olympics

"Attempts by the International Olympic Committee to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic Games are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on January 29 that allowing Russia to compete at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris was tantamount to showing that "terror is somehow acceptable." "Attempts by the International Olympic Committee to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic Games are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. He said Russia must not be allowed to "use [the Olympics] or any other sport event as propaganda for its aggression or its state chauvinism." To read the original story from Reuters, click here.

Turkey's Erdogan Signals Finland's NATO Bid May Be Considered Over Sweden

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled on January 29 that Ankara may agree to Finland joining NATO ahead of Sweden, amid growing tensions with Stockholm. "We may deliver Finland a different message [on their NATO application], and Sweden would be shocked when they see our message. But Finland should not make the same mistake Sweden did," Erdogan said in a televised speech. Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and need the approval of all member countries to join. Turkey and Hungary are yet to ratify the Nordic countries' membership. To read the original story from Reuters, click here.

Friends Mourn Volunteer Who Was Killed Helping Civilians In Ukraine

A farewell ceremony was held in Kyiv on January 29 for volunteer Andrew Bagshaw.

Friends and volunteers gathered on January 29 at Kyiv's St. Sophia’s Cathedral to say goodbye to Andrew Bagshaw, a New Zealand scientist who was killed in Ukraine with another volunteer while they were trying to evacuate people from a frontline town. Bagshaw, 48, a dual New Zealand-British citizen, and British volunteer Christopher Parry, 28, went missing this month while heading to the town of Soledar, in the eastern Donetsk region, where heavy fighting was taking place. To read the original story from AP, click here.

Over 500 Dead Since Start Of Unrest In Iran, Activists Say

Among the dead were 71 minors and 70 members of the police and other security forces, according to the group's tally.

At least 527 people have been killed in Iran since the beginning of the anti-government demonstrations more than four months ago, said a report by the U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency on January 29. Among them were 71 minors and 70 members of the police and other security forces, according to the group's tally. In total, nearly 20,000 people have been arrested. More than 100 of them are facing death sentences. Several demonstrators have already been executed. The Iranian authorities have not yet provided information on the total number of deaths and arrests.

Azerbaijan Evacuating Embassy In Iran After Fatal Shooting

The Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran was the scene of a fatal shooting on January 27.

Azerbaijan will evacuate embassy staff and family members from Iran on January 29, the Foreign Ministry said, two days after a gunman shot dead a security guard and wounded two other people in an attack Baku branded an "act of terrorism." Police in Tehran have said they have arrested a suspect. Iranian authorities condemned the January 27 incident but said the gunman appeared to have had a personal, not a political, motive. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.


At Least 12 Children Dead After Boat Capsizes In Northwestern Pakistan

Pakistani officials say at least 12 children were killed on January 29 after their boat overturned in Tanda Lake, a popular tourist destination in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Bilal Faizi, a spokesperson for local emergency services, said at least five children were rescued but that they are in critical condition. Police said at least 25 children -- students of the Mirbaz Khel religious school -- were on the boat when it capsized. The death toll was expected to rise as rescue efforts continued. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, click here.


Ukrainian Tanks Crews Arrive In Britain For Training

A Ukrainian soldier rests before going to the front line in the Donetsk region on January 28.

Ukrainian tank crews have arrived in Britain to begin training for their continued fight against Russia, the British Defense Ministry said on January 29, just days after Britain and other NATO countries pledged more than 130 tanks to Ukraine.

"The UK will provide Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine alongside global partner nations -- demonstrating the strength of support for Ukraine, internationally," the ministry tweeted on January 29.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's ongoing invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war, click here.

The United States and Germany agreed last week to send Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks, respectively, to Ukraine, while the United Kingdom earlier in January said it would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks. Germany also allowed other countries, such as Norway and Poland, to send their German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Poland said it will provide 60 more tanks to Ukraine, in addition to the 14 it has already pledged.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly said that they need 300 tanks as they seek to drive Russian forces from their territory. Ukraine has lost more than half of its 850 tanks during the 11-month war, according to Oryx, a website that uses open-source tools to count destroyed equipment.

Russia has many more tanks than Ukraine, but its models are inferior in some key respects to Western models.

Both Russia and Ukraine are expected to launch offensives in the coming weeks, with tanks expected to play a vital role in those battles, experts said.

Ukraine needs new weapons and faster deliveries to confront a "very tough" situation of constant attacks by Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on January 29.

"The situation is very tough. In Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other sectors in Donetsk region, there are constant Russian attacks. There are constant attempts to break through our defenses," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

"Russia wants the war to drag on and exhaust our forces. So we have to make time our weapon. We have to speed up events, speed up supplies, and open up new weapons options for Ukraine."

Shortly after Zelenskiy spoke reports emerged of a Russian military strike on an apartment building in the eastern city of Kharkiv, triggering a blaze.

The town's mayor Ihor Terekhov indicated there had been casualties.

Earlier, on the ground in Ukraine, Russian invading forces continued to launch attacks on January 29.

Three people were reported killed and six wounded by Russian strikes on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson that damaged a hospital and a school, the regional administration said.

Kherson was occupied by Russian troops from the early days of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine until its recapture by Kyiv's forces in November. Since its liberation, the city has regularly been shelled from Russian positions across the Dnieper River.

Meanwhile, the fighting on the front line remains intense, especially in the eastern Donetsk region, with major battles under way for Vuhledar and Bakhmut, a town that has been virtually razed by repeated Russian artillery bombardments.

The head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on January 29 that four people were killed and 17 others wounded in Russian strikes on Bakhmut and Kostyantynivka the previous day.

There were no casualties among the civilian populations as the district’s administrative center, Beryslav, and the villages of Mylove and Tyahynka came under the Russian attack, the district chief, Volodymyr Litvinov, said on Telegram on January 29.

Elsewhere, Ukraine's military said its forces repelled an attack in the area of Blahodatne in the eastern part of the Donetsk region, while Russia's Vagner mercenary group claimed it had taken control of the village.

With reporting by Reuters

Pakistani Government Lifts Price Caps On Gasoline, Diesel Fuel

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said he hoped the announcement would dispel speculation on social media of a higher price hike or that gasoline supplies would run dry. (file photo)

Pakistan's Finance Ministry announced on January 29 that gasoline and diesel prices would rise by $0.14 a liter after the country's currency plummeted in value this week when price caps were removed. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said he hoped the announcement would dispel speculation on social media of a higher price hike or that gasoline supplies would run dry. He said the hike was recommended by oil and gas authorities due to the higher cost of buying energy in the global market. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Earthquake Strikes Northwestern Iran, Killing At Least Three

The shallow quake hit the city of Khoy in West Azerbaijan Province.

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Iran near the border with Turkey late on January 28, killing at least three people and injuring 816, state media said. The shallow quake hit the city of Khoy in West Azerbaijan Province at 9:44 p.m., the Seismological Center of the University of Tehran said. Iran sits astride the boundaries of several major tectonic plates and experiences frequent seismic activity. To read the original story by AFP, click here.

Russia Rules Out Talks With Japan On Fishing Near Disputed Islands

A sunken vessel is seen near the Island of Kunashir, one of four islands known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. (file photo)

Russia said on January 29 that it will not hold annual talks with Japan on renewing a pact that allows Japanese fishermen to operate near disputed islands, saying Japan has taken anti-Russian measures. The islands are known in Russia as the Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories and have been at the core of decades of tension between the neighbors. Japan imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian individuals and organizations soon after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

At Least 40 Killed In Fiery Bus Crash In Southwest Pakistan

Rescue workers collect human remains from the burned wreckage of the bus accident on January 29.

At least 40 people died when a bus plunged off a bridge in southwestern Pakistan and burst into flames, a government official said on January 29. Hamza Anjum, a senior official of the Lasbela district in Balochistan Province, said at the accident site that three survivors had been rescued. The bus was reportedly carrying 48 passengers when it hit a pillar on the bridge and careened off course. Ramshackle highways, lax safety measures, and reckless driving contribute to Pakistan's dire road safety record. To read the original story by AFP, click here.


Armed Drones Attack Iranian Defense Factory; Tehran Says Only Limited Damage

The Iranian Defense Ministry offered no information on who it suspected carried out the attack.

Drones equipped with explosives targeted an Iranian defense factory in the central city of Isfahan overnight, the Iranian Defense Ministry announced on January 29, causing some damage at the facility.

The Iranian Defense Ministry released few details on the attack and did not say who it suspected was behind it.

Iran has been targeted in the past by suspected Israeli drone strikes. Israeli officials declined to comment on the attack in Isfahan.

The Wall Street Journal later quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying Israel had carried out the strike.

"This cowardly act was carried out today as part of the efforts made by enemies of the Iranian nation in recent months to make the Islamic republic insecure," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.

In a statement, the Iranian Defense Ministry said three drones had reportedly targeted the facility, with two of them shot down.

A third apparently made it through to strike the building, causing “minor damage” to its roof and wounding no one, the ministry said.

Video footage downloaded on social media showed what appeared to be the moment the drone struck along the Imam Khomeini Expressway that heads northwest out of Isfahan.

The Iranian Defense Ministry described the site as a “workshop” but did not elaborate on what type of work it was engaged in.

Isfahan is located some 350 kilometers south of Tehran. It is home to both a large air base built for its fleet of American-made F-14 fighter jets and its Nuclear Fuel Research and Production Center.

Separately, Iran’s state TV said a fire broke out at an oil refinery in an industrial zone near the northwestern city of Tabriz. It said the cause was not yet known, as it showed footage of firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze.

The attack comes after Iran's Intelligence Ministry in July claimed to have broken up a plot that it said was aiming to target sensitive sites around Isfahan.

Iranian state TV in October broadcast what it claimed to be confessions by alleged members of Komala --a Kurdish opposition party that is exiled from Iran and now operates out of Iraq -- that they planned to target a military aerospace facility in Isfahan after being trained by Israel's Mossad intelligence service.

The incident at Isfahan is the latest attack on Iranian military or nuclear facilities.

Last year, Iran said an engineer was killed and another employee was wounded in an unexplained incident at the Parchin military and weapons development base east of the capital, Tehran. The ministry called it an accident, without providing further details.

Parchin is home to a military base where the International Atomic Energy Agency has said it suspected Iran conducted tests of explosive triggers that could be used in nuclear weapons.

The attack comes with Tehran facing challenges at home and abroad.

The country has witnessed nationwide protests since the September death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman detained by the country's morality police. Its rial currency has plummeted to new lows against the U.S. dollar.

International talks on reviving an accord with world powers have broken down, and now Tehran is reported to have enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to arm Russia with the bomb-carrying drones that Moscow uses in attacks in Ukraine on power plants and civilian targets.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Poland Recruits Record Number Of Soldiers Following Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

Polish soldiers participate in a NATO military exercise near Orzysz, Poland, in May 2022.

Poland's armed forces have recruited the largest number of soldiers since it ended conscription in 2008 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked greater interest in defending the homeland. Poland recruited more than 13,500 professional soldiers last year, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on January 28. The number is equivalent to about 8 percent of Poland’s total armed forces of 164,000. Poland, which borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, intends to increase its armed forces to 300,000 professional soldiers in the coming years.

Five Russian Men Who Fled Mobilization Stranded At Seoul Airport As They Await Asylum Hearing

Russian nationals are allowed visa-free entry to South Korea, but immigration officials can deny permission to enter the country. (illustrative photo)

Five Russian men who fled their country after President Vladimir Putin announced a military mobilization have been stranded for months at an airport in South Korea. Seoul denied the men’s request for asylum upon their arrival in October and November. They have been living at their airport since then as they wait for their appeal to be heard. Russian nationals are allowed visa-free entry to South Korea, but immigration officials can deny permission to enter the country. The five men, whose identities are unknown, were among hundreds of thousands who fled Russia after the draft was announced. To read the original story by CNN, click here.

Russian Cash Transfers To Caucasus, Central Asia Surged In 2022 Amid Ukraine Invasion

People walk by a line of vehicles on the road for the Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgian border in September 2022. According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, around 78,000 Russians arrived in Georgia from September 17-26.

Residents of Russia sent money to accounts in Central Asian and the Caucasus at the greatest rate in more than a decade as hundreds of thousands of people fled the country following its invasion of Ukraine, the RBC news agency reported.

Residents of Russia last year transfered $2 billion to Georgia, the largest since 2012, and more than $2.5 billion to Kyrgyzstan, the biggest since 2005, RBC reported. More than $3 billion was transferred to Armenia.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's ongoing invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war, click here.

Uzbekistan received $14.5 billion, more the double the total for 2021, while Kazakhstan received $775 million.

Russians fled their country in a first wave after President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, triggering Western financial and trade sanctions that made it difficult for many citizens to work and conduct transactions.

Russians relocated en masse to Georgia and Armenia in the Caucasus, as well as Central Asia, where they could access dollar bank accounts and Western technology.

Hundreds of thousands more Russians fled to those nations after Putin announced in September the mobilization of up to 300,000 men for the war in Ukraine.

The number of Russians traveling to the Caucuses and Central Asia reached a five-year high last year, RBC reported.

Migrants may have also contributed to the jump in cash transfers in 2022.

Millions of migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus work in Russia and regularly send money to their families back home.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent Western economic sanctions have triggered a recession in Russia. As a result, many migrants have lost their jobs, forcing them to return home and repatriate their money.

More migrants could lose their jobs in 2023 as Russia’s economy contracts for a second straight year amid the weight of the war.

Italy Signs $8 Billion Gas Deal With Libya As It Seeks To Cut Russian Dependence

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a news conference in Tripoli on January 28.

Italy’s state-run energy company ENI has signed an $8 billion deal with Libya’s National Oil Corporation to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields as European nations seek to cut their dependence on Russian energy.

ENI will help develop two offshore fields, with production expected set to start in 2026, the company said on January 28. ENI estimated the fields could produce about 7.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year or more than two-thirds of the amount Italy imported from Russia last year.

European nations have been rushing to purchase natural gas from non-Russian sources, including North Africa, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia, the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe prior to the invasion, sharply cut exports to the continent last year in what EU officials said was an attempt to blackmail Brussels into cutting support for Ukraine. Italy had been the second-largest consumer of Russian gas in Europe after Germany.

The Russian energy cut caused natural gas prices in Europe to skyrocket to record levels, forcing companies and consumers to slash consumption. Prices have since returned to prewar levels amid a warm winter.

The ENI announcement came as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni toured energy-rich North Africa.

Days earlier, Meloni visited Algeria, Italy’s main supplier of natural gas, to sign memorandums on energy. Italy in May signed a deal with Algeria to increase imports starting in the autumn of 2022. That agreement called for up to an additional 9 bcm in 2023-24.

During her visit to Libya, Meloni said Italy wasn’t seeking a “predatory” role but wants to help African nations “grow and become richer.”

Libya’s exports to Italy have fallen by 5.5 bcm, or two-thirds, since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising overthrew longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, ushering in a period of instability and underinvestment.

In addition to North Africa, European nations have sought more natural gas imports from the United States and Qatar.

Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines plummeted to a post-Soviet low in 2022 and are expected to fall further this year.

The EU is aiming to end Russian imports of natural gas via pipeline later this decade, a business that had generated Moscow tens of billions of dollars annually.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Gazprom Says It Will Ship 24.3 Million Cubic Meters Of Gas To Europe Via Ukraine

Gas is no longer flowing through the Nord Stream 1 and 2 Baltic Sea pipelines, so the Ukrainian pipelines are the last remaining direct routes to Europe. (file photo)

Russia's Gazprom said it will ship 24.3 million cubic meters (mcm) of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine on January 28. The previous day, Gazprom announced the shipping of an almost identical quantity -- 24.2 mcm. Gas is no longer flowing through the Nord Stream 1 and 2 Baltic Sea pipelines, so the Ukrainian pipelines are the last remaining direct routes to Europe. Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines plummeted to a post-Soviet low in 2022 as deliveries plunged because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Countries in Europe are working to find alternative supplies of gas due to the war. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Death Toll In Afghanistan Cold Snap Rises To 166

At least 166 people have died in a wave of bitterly cold weather sweeping Afghanistan, the Disaster Management Ministry said on January 28. Afghanistan has been frozen by temperatures as low as -33 degrees Celsius since January 10, combined with widespread snowfall, icy gales, and regular electricity outages. Aid agencies had warned before the cold snap that more than half of Afghanistan's 38 million people were facing hunger, while nearly 4 million children were suffering from malnutrition. The ministry said on January 28 that the death toll had risen by 88 over the past week and now stood at 166. To read the original story by AFP, click here.

Zelenskiy Adviser Slams International Olympic Committee For 'Antihuman Policy'

Senior Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak (file photo)

Senior Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak criticized the International Olympic Committee on January 28 for siding with Russia after the IOC said the Olympic Council of Asia had offered Russian and Belarusian athletes a chance to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics. "#IOC proposes to the world promotion of violence, mass murders, destruction. That's why it insists Russian athletes should participate in contests as real 'ambassadors of death'," Podolyak wrote on Twitter. "Sport doesn't exist outside politics -- sport promotes it. Thus, the IOC promotes the [Russian] anti-human policy."

Australian Open Chief Tells Djokovic's Family To 'Be Really Careful'

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley: "My advice is that you have to be really careful."

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley on January 28 advised tennis ace Novak Djokovic's family to be "really careful" of people using the tournament's global exposure as a platform for "disruptive" purposes. It follows a video posted on the Internet showing Djokovic's father, Srdjan, posing in Melbourne with a fan holding a Russian flag featuring Vladimir Putin's face. It sparked a backlash from Ukraine, which is battling Russia's full-scale invasion. "My advice is that you have to be really careful because, if this is an event of global significance, it's a platform," Tiley said he told them. To read the original article by AFP, click here.

Ukraine To Summon Hungarian Envoy Over 'Unacceptable' Remarks By Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (file photo)

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry will summon Hungary's ambassador to complain about "completely unacceptable" remarks Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban made about Ukraine, Kyiv said on January 27. Hungary has repeatedly criticized EU sanctions on Russia. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko, writing on Facebook, said Orban had told reporters that Ukraine was a no-man's-land and compared it to Afghanistan. "The Hungarian ambassador will be summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry for a frank discussion. We reserve the right to take other measures in response," Nikolenko said. To read the original article by Reuters, click here.

Load more