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GERMANY AND RUSSIA

Russian energy imports ‘essential’ to Europeans’ lives, says German Chancellor

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz cautioned Monday against banning Russian oil and gas as part of Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, saying doing so could put Europe's energy security at risk.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday. Photo:
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Pool | Michael Kappeler

Scholz said that Germany welcomed “all international efforts to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine with deep and targeted sanctions”.

He added that the sanctions against Russian financial institutions, the Central Bank in Moscow and more than 500 individuals give a clear message. 

“The same applies to export restrictions on important goods,” said Scholz.

The sanctions were designed so that they “hit Russia hard and can be sustained over the long term”.

However, the Chancellor warned that energy supplies cannot be included in the sanctions.

“Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions,” Scholz said in the statement.

“Supplying Europe with energy for heat generation, mobility, electricity supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way at the moment. It is, therefore, of essential importance for the provision of public services and the daily lives of our citizens.”

READ ALSO: How Germany could end its dependence on Russian energy

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selensky has been urging further and stricter sanctions against Russia including a boycott of Russian exports.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, Germany imported €19.4 billion worth of crude oil and natural gas from Russia last year – accounting for 59 percent of all imports from the country.

The state of Bavaria accounted for the largest share: with almost €5.7 billion, it accounted for about 29 percent of the nationwide total. Brandenburg (€3.8 billion) and Hesse (€3 billion) follow. According to the Munich Chamber of Industry and Commerce, 36 percent of Bavaria’s oil and gas imports come from Russia.

Scholz said the German government had been working hard for months to “develop alternatives to Russian energy” with EU partners and others. 

“However, this cannot be done overnight,” he said. “Therefore, it is a conscious decision on our part to continue the activities of business enterprises in the area of energy supply with Russia.”

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) pointed out Germany’s “insanely high dependence” on imports.

She warned that if imports of oil, gas and coal from Russia were stopped, the lights could go out in Germany.

“We must, although these images of bombed cities tear at our hearts, always keep a cool head as well,” Baerbock told ZDF. “We will not be able to stop the war by having the lights go out completely, here in Europe.”

Member comments

  1. Basically, Sholz and bareback are saying. As long as it only affects the poorest. Who cares.
    We either help pay for the bombs falling on Kiev. Or we force Germanys already vulnerable to take the burden. The later looses elections. So its simple for them, they cause it. They don’t feel the pinch.
    It was all so avoidable.

  2. Well germany should hang its head in absolute SHAME. Come on now Fire back at me when you read this.

    Germany allowed the Nord Stream 1 under that communist sympathiser Gerhard Schroeder. Sholtz allowed it too and so di Merkel all wanting Money and profit using the excuse Russia will come into the western fold but at the same time asking NATO to make sure there was no problem.

    They then said they will not operate nord stream 2 which is not even in use so that is like we will not pay for the rocket shiop to the sun BECAUSE NONE IS HAPPENING. Germany places profit before anything else. MONEY FIRST. Sure jobs and confort may be at stake but isnt that better than being blackmailed by an army that now had the GERMAN money to pay for those bombs?

    Australia did this with Japan in WW2. they sold iron for money and got bombs back

    REAP WHAT YOU SOW and this is not going to be the ned of this.

    GERMANY should have learnt about putting money fort. A LONG TIME AGO like about 70 years when they accused OTHERS of that same thing.

  3. While true, not banning Russian gas feeds to bear and will allow them to march their way across Europe like Putin has been planning all along. We should have been building next generation nuclear plants everywhere. Not only are they safe, they don’t depend of tyrants, and are carbon-free. No brainer.

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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