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Europeans must be willing to ‘pay’ to support Ukraine – top EU diplomat

Arming Ukraine and keeping Europe united comes at a cost, which Brussels needs to explain to citizens, Josep Borrell said

Helping Ukraine in its fight against Russia comes at a price for Europe, which citizens should be willing to pay, the EU’s foreign policy chief has said. A Russian victory would be Europe’s loss, Josep Borrell believes.

“We must explain to our citizens that this is not someone else’s war,” the diplomat said in an interview published by newspaper El Pais on Thursday. “The public must be willing to pay the price of supporting Ukraine and for preserving the unity of the EU. 

“We are at war. These things are not free,” he added, acknowledging that the cost should be distributed “equitably.”

Borrell was referring to surging inflation and potential power shortages faced by European nations after deciding to punish Russia for attacking Ukraine by refusing to buy its energy. Brussels wants member states to cut consumption to be better prepared for peak demand this winter, but some countries have resisted the proposal.

Spain, Borrell’s home country, was among the dissenting voices. Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said last month that “imposing unfair sacrifices” was not the best way to deal with the crisis. She argued that, unlike people in some other nations, “Spaniards have not lived beyond our means from an energy point of view.”

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Europeans “cannot show a lack of solidarity” with such squabbles, Borrell said in the interview. He admonished Madrid for not appreciating “what this war represents to countries closest to it,” like Poland. Spain may benefit from the EU’s decoupling from Russia in the long run by becoming a major hub for supply of liquified natural gas to Europe, he added.

Borrell warned that Europe should be prepared for the conflict in Ukraine to continue for a long time. Commenting on European goals in the conflict, he said that “if Russia wins this war and occupies part of the Ukrainian territory, then we Europeans will have lost and will face a much greater threat.”

The Ukrainian government says it will only talk to Russia after pushing its military to where it was before 2014, which would include capturing Crimea. Borrell said Western nations have a “moral imperative” to back Kiev. He said the US and the EU have been in “absolute cooperation” on the issue, and suggested that this would not have been the case if the conflict started with Donald Trump in power in Washington.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

Real Madrid crowned Super Cup kings

The Spanish giants added to their trophy haul with victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki

Real Madrid began their new campaign where they left off last season, adding more silverware to the Bernabeu trophy room by beating Germans Eintracht Frankfurt to lift the UEFA Super Cup at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium.

French forward Karim Benzema – who was at the crux of Real’s Champions League-winning exploits last season – became the club’s second-highest scorer of all time as he sealed victory in the 65th minute after combining with Vinicius Junior.

Defender David Alaba had given Real the lead in the 37th minute when he swept home from close range after Casemiro had headed the ball down to him.

The 2-0 win for Carlo Ancelotti’s team meant a fifth UEFA Super Cup in total for Real – a joint record alongside AC Milan and Barcelona.

It was also a record fourth personal Super Cup triumph for Ancelotti – twice with Real and twice with Milan.  

Europa League winners Eintracht were spirited rivals and put up more of a fight than many had hoped, especially after they came into the match on the back of a 6-1 Bundesliga drubbing by Bayern Munich at the weekend.

But Real gradually exerted control over the match, with Casemiro hitting the crossbar with one effort after Kevin Trapp had saved a deflected Vinicius Junior effort.

Benzema, 34, continues to age like a fine French wine and capped the win with his strike after continuing the link-up with Vinicius which proved so fruitful in winning the Champions League and La Liga last season.

Benzema was on target again for Real. © David S. Bustamante / Soccrates / Getty Images

The goal moved Benzema ahead of Spanish great Raul in Real’s all-time list with 324 strikes.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo remains above the Frenchman, with the Portuguese striker plundering 450 goals during his nine years at the Bernabeu.  

Real manager Ancelotti hailed Benzema as a “team leader” and argued his credentials for a maiden Ballon d’Or.

“If we’re here it’s largely due to his merits, he scored a lot of goals, he finished the season well, he scored a goal today and now he’s going for the Ballon d’Or award,” said the Italian.  

Ancelotti has suggested his team can fight for all six titles they are in contention for this season, and began with the same line-up in Helsinki which beat Liverpool in Paris back in May.

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However, new summer signings Aurelien Tchouameni and Antonio Rudiger were among those introduced from the bench for their formal debuts.

“They are used to playing together, they are comfortable, they know each other,” said Ancelotti.

“We didn’t play a spectacular game, but we were really solid. Our usual. Eintracht were very closed and we found it difficult to find our rhythm, but we did it well then.

“It’s difficult at the beginning of the season to be in top form but we now have won to start the season well.”

Real begin their quest for a third La Liga title in four years when they meet Almeria on Sunday – and beyond that will be targeting a 15th Champions League crown.

Five killed in Kashmir shootout – officials

A militant attack on an Indian army outpost comes ahead of Independence Day festivities

A militant attack in a disputed region of Kashmir has killed three Indian soldiers and wounded two others, local officials claimed on Thursday. Two suspected attackers also died in the skirmish with government forces.

According to Mukesh Singh, Additional Director General of Police, at least two assailants armed with guns and grenades, attacked a military outpost in the Rajouri district in southern Kashmir. The shootout lasted for at least three hours, the official said.

Two militants trying to sneak into a post in the dark at Pargal [army camp] in Rajouri were detected. They were engaged by alert troops,” Singh said.

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An Indian army soldier stands guard while patrolling near the Line of Control, a ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Poonch district August 7, 2013. © Reuters / Mukesh Gupta
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The official added that the two wounded Indian soldiers are undergoing treatment.

According to an unnamed army official cited by Reuters, the area around the post was closed off while security forces conducted a search.

The assault comes several days before festivities for India’s Independence Day on August 15. It also occurred close to the third anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy.

Many Kashmiris believe that the loss of special status violates the rights of the Muslim majority. Constitutional autonomy was revoked from the region in 2019, sparking fears of unrest and triggering condemnation from neighboring Pakistan.

The muslim-majority region has been a disputed territory between India and Pakistan for over 60 years, with some separatists pushing for total independence and others seeking to move away from India and instead join with Pakistan. The area is split into two districts – the India controlled Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region around the city of Jammu, while Pakistan holds a sliver of land in the West.

The territorial dispute has resulted in multiple armed conflicts between the two nations since they gained independence from the British Empire.

Medvedev stunned by red-hot Kyrgios

The world number one was knocked out in the second round of the Canadian Open

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev was sent crashing out of the Canadian Open by Nick Kyrgios as the Australian continued his impressive form in Montreal on Wednesday.

Fresh from winning a first ATP singles title in three years by claiming the Citi Open in Washington DC last weekend, Kyrgios picked up a major scalp as he fought back to defeat world number one Medvedev in three sets, 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2.

Medvedev, 26, was entering the match on the back of his own title win at the Los Cabos Open in Mexico, but he came off second-best in a two-hour clash at the ATP Masters 1000 event.  

The defeat means Medvedev will see his lead at the top of the ATP ratings shrink when they are updated on Monday.

The Cincinnati Masters is up next, and while world number two Alexander Zverev remains sidelined with injury, number three Rafael Nadal has said he will return after skipping Canada as an injury precaution – marking a threat to Medvedev’s status.

Kyrgios, meanwhile, has won 14 of his past 15 singles matches, with his sole defeat coming to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final last month.

Kyrgios continued his fine form. © Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images

“I had a very clean objective of how I was going to play, a lot of serve-and-volley, a lot of aggressive play from the back,” Kyrgios said of his win over Medvedev.

“I executed better than he did, that’s all it comes down to. He won the first set and I feel like I had opportunities there as well, so hopefully I can just keep this rolling.”

The Australian, 27, improved his head-to-head record against Medvedev to 3-1, as the Moscow-born star rued his missed opportunities.  

“For me, today the biggest difference was that I missed in some important moments some shots,” Medvedev said.

“I didn’t miss much, but missed just a few where I think it could be different maybe in the later stage of a tournament. That’s a pity. At the same time, well, it’s like this.”

Kyrgios – so often prone to on-court outbursts – remained focused despite dropping the first set.

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“He was great. He was playing good. He beat me fairly, if we can say like this,” Medvedev added.

Medvedev’s defeat was one of several shocks in Montreal as each of the top three seeds exited the tournament.

Second seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain was dumped out by America’s Tommy Paul, while third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece went down to British underdog Jack Draper.

That series of defeats makes it the first time a Masters 1000 event has seen the top three seeds all lose their opening matches since Indian Wells in 1999.

While Medvedev will turn his attentions to Cincinnati next week, the biggest target on the horizon remains the defense of his US Open title when the action begins in New York on August 29.

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine marks two-year anniversary

The world’s first registered Covid-19 shot has been supplied to 71 countries, home to four billion people, the head of the fund behind Sputnik V says

In the two years since its registration, Sputnik V has proven to be “one of the most effective and safe tools” against Covid-19 both in Russia and abroad, the head of the fund which financed the vaccine’s development and oversees its distribution said on Wednesday.

On August 11, 2020, Sputnik V became the world’s first vaccine against the novel coronavirus to be registered, after receiving the relevant papers from Russia’s Health Ministry. 

Since then the jab, developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, “has become the most exported drug in Russia’s history and rightfully established itself as one of the most effective and safe tools to combat coronavirus infection in the world,” Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev said.

“Sputnik V was trusted in 71 countries around the globe where more than 4 billion people reside,” he noted.

In order to facilitate the access to the vaccine, RDIF organized mass production not only in Russia, but in 18 other countries, including India, China, Brazil, Argentina and Iran. 

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Containers with Russian Sputnik V vaccine arrive at the airport, in Chisinau, Moldova. © Sputnik /Mihai Karaush
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The two-component Sputnik V shot has shown 97.6% efficacy during the vaccination drive in Russia, according to data from the Gamaleya Institute and the Health Ministry. 

Its effectiveness was also “confirmed by the results of more than 50 clinical studies and data from… national vaccination programs in various regions of the world, including Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America,” the RDIF chief said.

Research on the Russian jab has been published in international peer-reviewed medical journals including The Lancet, Nature, Vaccines, Cell Reports Medicine and others, he pointed out.

“The vaccine not only helped protect people from the original coronavirus strain and bring down the peak of the disease, its proven universal platform of human adenoviral vectors has shown high efficiency in combating new mutations [of Covid-19], including the Delta and Omicron strains,” Dmitriev said.

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A joint study by the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases and the Gamaleya Institute, which was published in early 2022, “confirmed that Sputnik V provided the strongest defense against Omicron,” he said. Among other things, that paper revealed that the Russian jab is 2.6 times more effective against Omicron than the US-made Pfizer shot.  

A one-component Sputnik Light vaccine was also registered in Russia in May 2021 and later supplied to more than 30 countries. It became a “universal booster for other vaccines,” providing higher protection against the Omicron strain and other mutations, according to the RDIF chief.

However, Sputnik V and Sputnik Light still lack authorization from the World Health Organization and the EU’s watchdog European Medicines Agency (EMA). Russian officials have claimed the delay is due to political reasons. RDIF was also among the first Russian entities to face Western sanctions after the launch of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine in February. 

“The pandemic should be an important lesson for all of humanity – when it comes to saving lives, unity and collective efforts are required. Only this path makes it possible to effectively counter future threats, including epidemiological ones,” Dmitriev concluded.

Swiss warned of possible winter energy shortages

The economy ministry says citizens may be forced to limit consumption

Swiss officials may place restrictions on energy consumption this coming winter, Thomas Grunwald, the spokesman for Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

“In general, the country’s Economic Supply Office, as well as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Population, rank power shortages … among the most serious risks for Switzerland,” he said, adding that all institutions and businesses would be subject to a quota if there were power shortages.

His comments echo those made on Sunday by Werner Luginbuhl, the head of Switzerland’s electricity regulator ElCom, who in his interview with Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag complained that electricity was being used “completely thoughtlessly” and urged citizens to stock up on candles and firewood due to possible power outages in the country this coming winter.

“The use of electrical devices in particular may be restricted or prohibited,” he said, noting that if residents “were just a little more aware that electricity isn’t always going to be a matter of course, we could achieve a lot.” He also said that temporary restrictions in power use, especially with regard to large consumers, are being considered by authorities as a means to preserve the power supply.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Britons struggling to pay energy bills – Bloomberg

Household debts have already surpassed £1.3 billion, data shows

British households already owe a record £1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) to their energy suppliers ahead of winter, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing price-comparison service Uswitch.

Data showed that, as of July, the energy debts were more than double September’s level. Some 6.5 million households owe an average of £206 ($252) to providers, according to the service.

The report explained that each year since 2018, when a UK price cap was introduced, household debts have gradually fallen during summer. However, this year debt jumped by 10% between April and July as a result of soaring gas and power prices.

“Energy debt has hit an all-time high with the worst possible timing, turning this winter’s energy price hike into a deeply precarious situation for many households,” Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at, told Bloomberg. “The cost-of-living crisis is already squeezing budgets dramatically, even during the summer months, as families struggle with rising bills in all areas,” she added.
Earlier this year, energy suppliers warned about the huge number of customers falling behind on their bills. The situation has worsened since then as wholesale gas prices have more than doubled in the country, setting the stage for millions more to struggle to pay bills this winter.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Ousted Sri Lankan leader seeking entry to Thailand

The former president resigned and took off for Singapore in July amid mass protests

Sri Lanka’s ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has requested entry to Thailand, weeks after stepping down and hastily fleeing his country during a heated round of anti-government demonstrations.

A spokesman for Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, Tanee Sangrat, announced the request in a string of tweets on Wednesday, saying officials were contacted by the current authorities in Sri Lanka and asked whether Rajapaksa could travel to the Southeast Asian country.

“The Thai side received a request for the former President to enter Thailand from the current government of Sri Lanka. The consideration was based on long-standing and cordial ties between the two countries,” Sangrat said, adding that Rajapaksa’s stay would be “temporary” and had the “aim of onward travel.”

While the spokesman offered few other details about the proposed arrangement, he noted that any holder of a Sri Lankan passport is permitted to enter Thailand without a visa for a period of 90 days, suggesting the former president would be no exception. He did not indicate Rajapaksa’s final destination or when he intended to travel to Thailand, but clarified that the ex-leader is not seeking political asylum from the Thai government.

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Rajapaksa ended up in Singapore on July 14 after first fleeing to the Maldives on a military jet the day before. He was initially prevented from leaving Sri Lanka by airport officials, as it is widely believed he was seeking to avoid detention once his presidential immunities expired, but ultimately escaped amid a massive spike in unrest over alleged mismanagement by his administration, among other grievances. Officials in Singapore have said Rajapaksa is merely on a “private visit” and has not applied for asylum.

Under Rajapaksa’s leadership, Sri Lanka was driven to bankruptcy, defaulting on its foreign debts in May and introducing fuel rationing in July. The economic turmoil prompted a wave of protests which came to a head last month, when a mob stormed the presidential residence and forced Rajapaksa to flee.