The G7 countries promise more than 18 billion euros to Ukraine
The G7 countries on Friday promised 18.7 billion euros in financial assistance to Ukraine. It announces the finance ministers in a statement. Among other things, the money will keep the country’s economy going during the Russian invasion.
The members of the G7 believe that the economic situation in Ukraine should not affect the country’s ability to defend itself. The promised amount is a mix of gifts and loans. It is not known how much each country pays. “We will continue to support Ukraine through this war and beyond and are ready to do more if necessary,” the statement said.
The G7 consists of the major industrialized countries (Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany) and the European Union. Delegates from the countries have met in Germany for the past two days.
Schröder resigns under political pressure from a board position in the Russian oil group Rosneft
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is leaving the Russian state oil group Rosneft, according to the news agency Reuters. There he held the lucrative position as chairman of the board since 2017 despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to Rosneft, Schröder – a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin – now believes he could become “impossible”. As far as is known, he retains his board position in the Russian state gas company Gazprom.
Schröder, 78, had been under severe political pressure for some time to resign from his post. As early as the beginning of March, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on him to resign from his post at Rosneft. On Thursday, the German parliament decided to deprive him of some of his privileges as former head of government. The European Parliament even wants to impose sanctions on Schröder and other Kremlin-minded ex-politicians.
Schröder has caused quite a bit of controversy in Germany in recent months. Prior to the Russian invasion on February 24, he called Ukrainian requests for arms supplies “excessive”; as if Ukraine saw a threat that was not there. He also refuses to back down from Putin’s aggression. The man, who was chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005, lost a tax-funded office with staff this week.
Gazprom closes the gas tap to Finland next Saturday
The Russian gas company Gazprom closes the gas tap to Finland on Saturday morning. This was announced by the Finnish gas wholesaler Gasum on Friday. Gasum refuses to obey the Kremlin’s demand to pay in rubles for Russian gas. From tomorrow, the state-owned company will extract gas from other countries via a pipeline connected to Estonia.
While Finland imports most of its gas from Russia, it depends only a small part – about 6 percent – on gas in terms of annual energy consumption. The largest sources of Finnish energy are wood, oil and its five nuclear reactors.
Chairman of the Board Johanna Lamminen finds Russia’s closure of the gas tap a “serious disappointment”. She also says that it will not have any further impact on the gas supplies that the energy company supplies to Finnish customers. According to Lamminen, Gasum was prepared for this scenario.
On Wednesday, Finland submitted a request to join NATO. This is considered a major threat by Russia, which shares a border of more than 1,000 kilometers with Finland. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu on Friday spoke of an “increased military threat” on Russia’s western border.
Video evidence shows Russian involvement in civilian executions in Butsha
Video proof in the hands of New York Times shows the involvement of Russian soldiers in the executions of at least eight civilians in Butja. The suburb of Kiev was occupied by Russian troops for almost the whole of March. After they left, pictures of dozens of bodies of civilians on the street, some with their hands tied behind their backs, shocked the world. Russia has denied responsibility for the at least 400 bodies that were eventually found at the scene.
The American newspaper spent weeks investigating Butja and finally got pictures of the day after the city came into Russian hands. A first video – recorded by a security camera on March 4 – shows two Russian soldiers holding a group of nine men in arms and driving them down a street. The Ukrainian men hold one hand behind their head while the other clings to the belt of the person in front of them. “Go right, idiot,” a soldier orders them according to New York Times†
The second video was also made on March 4 by a witness. He filmed how the hostages are led to a courtyard, where they are then forced to kneel on the ground. Then the video stops, but it told eight witnesses New York Times that the men were then taken to an office building. There were shots fired from the building that served as a temporary Russian base.
A day later, a drone flying overhead filmed the lifeless bodies of eight of the nine men on the ground near the office building. They are guarded by two Russian soldiers. New York Times traced the ninth inmate, who survived the massacre by pretending to be dead. All the executed men have been identified by the American newspaper. They were civilians who had joined the civilian militia that was to defend Butsha.
Love letter left
Moscow denies that Russian soldiers have committed war crimes in Butya, such as civilian executions are typical. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the images of dead civilians on the street “staged and fake.” However, previous extensive investigations by the news agency Reuters also show that Russian soldiers were violent in Butcha. Reuters was able to identify some soldiers who had been present in Butsha, among other things through a love letter left behind.
Ukrainian prosecutors are now investigating about 9,000 war crimes committed by hundreds of Russian soldiers. Ten Russian soldiers are specifically suspected of civilian assaults in Butya, Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova announced last month. The International Criminal Court in The Hague has also been investigating since the beginning of March whether war crimes were committed in Ukraine during the Russian invasion.
Summary: EU wants to use frozen assets to rebuild Ukraine, Donbas ‘completely destroyed’
These are the main developments from Thursday evening and night from Thursday to Friday:
- The European Union will investigate how the frozen Russian assets can be used to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war. That’s what the President is for European Commission Ursula von der Leyen Thursday night against the German TV station ZDF. She believes that “Russia should also make its contribution”. According to her, lawyers are now looking at how the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs can be used. The United States and Europe have already seized about $ 30 billion (EUR 28.4 billion) in Russian assets.
- More than 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers from the steel plant Azovstal in Mariupol has surrendered to Russian forces since the beginning of this week. This was reported by the Russian authorities, according to the news agency AP, and the British intelligence† At least some of the soldiers are said to have been transported to Russian prison camps. The injured are said to be hospitalized, although it is not clear how many. It is unknown how many soldiers are still hiding at the Azovstal factory.
- The Ukrainian Donbas region has been “completely destroyed,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message late Thursday night. He accused Russia of carrying out meaningless bombing campaigns. “In the Donbas, the occupiers are trying to put even more pressure. It’s hell there – and it’s no exaggeration, “Zelensky was quoted as saying by Reuters.
- That budget deficit in Ukraine has risen to about $ 5 billion (4.7 billion euros) a month as a result of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian president said in the video message. Zelensky thanked the United States for the additional $ 40 billion in military aid that the U.S. Senate approved on Thursday. He also thanked the EU for the 9 billion euros in aid promised on Wednesday.