Category Archives: News

France opposes Spain’s gas pipeline project – media

Paris is reportedly skeptical the MidCat pipeline to Central Europe would help with the energy crisis

A major gas pipeline project advocated by Madrid and Berlin has faced resistance from Paris, El Pais and several other Spanish news outlets reported this week, citing a letter by the French Ministry of Energy Transition.

Spain imports natural gas from Algeria through two undersea pipelines – the Maghreb-Europe and the Medgaz.

Dubbed the Midi-Catalonia Pipeline or MidCat, the project aimed to create a gas transit network spanning hundreds of kilometers across Spain and France and provide some 7.5 billion cubic meters of gas transit capacity. It was first pitched in 2015, but was canceled in 2019 by France, which was to cover a major portion of its costs and deemed it financially non-viable.

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US has doomed EU to hunger and cold – Russia

The MidCat idea was revived in May 2022, amid fears of a looming energy crisis due to potential cuts in gas supplies from Russia – the continent’s major energy supplier – amid the conflict in Ukraine. Madrid and Berlin are “pushing hard to revive it,” according to El Pais. Paris, however, appears unconvinced.

“Such a project would require, in any case, many years [for it] to become operational,” the French ministry led by Agnes Pannier-Runacher said in an emailed statement, seen by El Pais and several other Spanish outlets.

It would take many years to complete just the relevant studies and other documentation related to such a project, the ministry argued, adding that MidCat is unlikely to help with the current energy crisis in the EU or the potential shortages this winter. Instead, Paris suggested building more liquified natural gas terminals, calling them “smaller and faster investments.”

Building a pipeline might also interfere with climate goals, the French ministry said, adding that “to meet both the current energy challenge and the climate challenge, we will have to reduce our gas consumption and accelerate the development of carbon-free energy [sources].”

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Germany sets heating limit

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin last week that he asked his Spanish and Portuguese counterparts to “discuss” the project, adding that he was “in talks” with French President Emmanuel Macron and the EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

Spain’s Third Deputy Prime Minister Teresa Ribera followed up by saying the Spanish part of the project could be ready “in eight or nine months.”

Macron has not made any public statements on the project to date, however. France’s energy transition ministry maintains that MidCat must be a “subject to dialogue between the affected member states,” adding that “European solidarity and our climate goals” should be taken into account as well.

Authorities in Madrid said on Thursday that they were “not aware of any official communication from the French government” on the issue to date. Ribera also reportedly argued that the pipeline could be used to transport hydrogen – which is considered one of renewable energy sources – in the future. The idea prompted some Spanish officials to suggest that Paris fears competition to its energy exports.

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UK annual energy bills likely to soar above £5,000

“France is afraid of green hydrogen [energy] from the south,” said a Spanish MEP Nicolas González Casares, adding that the French authorities “want to protect their nuclear power.” According to the Spanish media, Paris insists that “uncertainties are very high about the production and consumption capacities” of hydrogen in the future.

Rising global prices have led to an energy crisis in the EU. The cost of gas futures on the Dutch TTF hub exceeded $2,600 per thousand cubic meters this week, for the first time since March. Prices are forecast to spike 60% this winter, exceeding $4,000 per thousand cubic meters.

Earlier this month, the bloc approved a plan that would see member states reduce their gas consumption by 15%, in a bid to tackle the crisis. 

Riot disrupts showing of Ukraine film

Activists attacked the screening of Oliver Stone-produced ‘Ukraine on Fire’ in Germany

Pro-Ukrainian activists in Leipzig, Germany disrupted the showing of a film about the 2014 Maidan coup, police said on Friday. A group showed up at Thursday evening’s screening of ‘Ukraine on Fire,’ a 2016 documentary produced by Oliver Stone, and got into an altercation with the organizers.

The documentary screening was part of the globaLE film festival, which runs from July 27 to November 1. The open-air festival shows works critical of globalization. ‘Ukraine on Fire,’ produced by Stone and directed by Ukrainian filmmaker Igor Lopatonok, takes a critical view of the 2014 Kiev protests that resulted in a violent overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine.

The German-Ukrainian artist group Ostov Collective showed up at the screening on Thursday evening, calling the documentary pro-Russian. 

According to preliminary police reports, six people disturbed the screening by beating their drums and attempting to seize the microphone out of the organizer’s hand. The resulting fight required police intervention to break up, and delayed the screening by several minutes.

Activists with the Ostov Collective told German media that they were the victims, actually, after an organizer punched one of them in the face. 

A spokesman for Leipzig police said that no injuries were reported, and that the authorities were investigating the activist group for attempted bodily harm, according to Der Spiegel.

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Ukraine on Fire by Igor Lopatonok, 2016. © Another Way Productions
YouTube censors Ukraine documentary featuring Oliver Stone

Lopatonok’s documentary takes an in-depth look at the protests that began in November 2013 and culminated in the violent coup that deposed President Viktor Yanukovich in February 2014, triggering civil war in Ukraine and a referendum in Crimea to join Russia. In the official narrative of the US-backed government in Kiev, the Maidan was a peaceful “revolution of dignity” by pro-Western democrats.

Western governments have denounced ‘Ukraine on Fire,’ as did the city council of Leipzig ahead of the screening. It was removed from YouTube in March this year, ostensibly for featuring “violent or graphic content.” 

US announces $775 million in weapons for Kiev

New delivery will include drones, anti-radar HARM missiles, howitzers and 1,000 Javelins

The US will send additional military aid worth $775 million to Kiev, the Pentagon announced on Friday. The newest batch of weapons will include howitzers, drones and mine-clearing equipment, as well as munitions for the HIMARS rocket launchers and other US-made weapons.

Citing Defense Department sources, US media reported that the military assistance package is expected to include 16 105mm howitzers and munitions for them, as well as AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles, 40 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAP), and 50 Humvees.

For the first time, the US will be supplying the Ukrainian forces with unmanned aerial systems, specifically 15 Scan Eagle surveillance drones. Their delivery would provide Ukraine with “better reconnaissance around the front lines,” a Pentagon official told the media.

Kiev will also get munitions for the HIMARS rocket lanuchers the US has previously supplied to Ukraine. According to the Pentagon, the US seeks to help Ukrainian forces make gains on the battlefield.

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Ukrainian servicemen move US-supplied Stinger missiles at an airport in Kiev. © AFP / Sergei Supinsky
US prepares more military aid for Ukraine – media

“We want to make sure that Ukraine has a steady stream of ammunition to meet its needs, and that’s what we’re doing with this package,” the official said.

According to the New York Post, the delivery will also involve 36,000 artillery rounds and 1,000 Javelin portable anti-tank missiles. Other reports mentioned TOW anti-tank missiles as well.

It is unclear when the weapons and ammunition are expected to arrive in Ukraine. The announcement came about two weeks after the US President Joe Biden’s administration approved a $1 billion military aid package to Ukraine, the largest so far. That package included ammunition for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) – air defense systems that are yet to arrive in Ukraine – as well as howitzers and HIMARS.

Friday’s announcement brings the total cost of US military assistance to Kiev to about $10.6 billion, according to US media. It comes after some US analysts questioned the effectiveness of some weapons systems supplied to Ukraine.

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FILE PHOTO. A US weapons technician secures an AGM-88 HARM missile. ©USAF via Getty Images
New US missile won’t turn tide for Ukraine – Business Insider

Writing in Business Insider this week, Michael Peck noted that the anti-radar HARM missiles, designed to hit enemy air defense systems, would only have “limited impact” on the conflict in Ukraine. Kiev possesses a rather limited number of planes that could launch them and might struggle to turn striking Russian air defenses into a major advantage on the battlefield that is still largely defined by artillery strikes, Peck said.

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.

Man United icon Ferguson praises Giggs at assault trial

Ferguson appeared as a character witness for his former player

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson praised the temperament of his former player Ryan Giggs at his trial for the alleged assault and controlling behavior of his ex-girlfriend and her sister.

Giving evidence on behalf of the ex-footballer who is accused of a range of offenses against Kate Greville, as well as one against her younger sister Emma, Ferguson stated that he never observed Giggs becoming angry or violent in the 24 years they worked together at Manchester United.

He claimed that Giggs had a “fantastic temperament” and that the Manchester United stalwart was treated “as the number one” within the club.

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Giggs was back in court on Wednesday. © Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
Man United icon kept woman ‘like slave,’ court hears

Giggs was one of Ferguson’s most dependable charges throughout his football career. The Welshman made 963 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United, and was central to some of Ferguson’s most enduring achievements including two Champions League titles since he broke into the first team at the age of just 17.

They [Manchester United] had been going through a bad period when I arrived at the club in 1986,” said Ferguson.

We had a big job to do. We saw Ryan as one step towards a better situation in regard to young players. The thing was, the press started comparing him with George Best. We had to face a lot of attention on the boy.

When someone’s saying you’re the next George Best, it’s a big issue. But the boy was great, no problems.”

He added to the jury: “When I lost my temper, I would use Ryan as an example. He would get the sharp end of my tongue, but I knew he could take it. Other players would sit up and think, ‘If Ryan can take it, we can all take it.’

He was the best example I’ve had at any club. Everyone looked at Ryan as the number one.” 

The court also heard on Friday of a letter written to Giggs by Greville three days before his arrest for assault in which she accused him of being unfaithful in their relationship by sleeping with at least eight other women, in which she described him as a “compulsive liar and serial cheat.

I now know you say the same things you say to me to multiple women. I’m nothing special, I was just the one you didn’t let have a happy life.

Earlier this week, Giggs admitted he considered himself a “love cheat” and said that he had been unfaithful in every relationship he had ever had, though he denied assault Greville.

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Giggs is in court this week. © Danny Lawson / PA Images via Getty Images
Man Utd icon ‘headbutted’ ex-partner amid ‘litany of abuse’ – lawyers

Ferguson’s testimony on behalf of Giggs came after messages between he and Greville were read aloud in court.

You are the jam in my doughnut, the truffle in my pasta, the salt in my tequila,” he wrote in one message.

In another sent on New Year’s Eve 2017, Giggs wrote a message in which he spelled out Greville’s name: “G for Gorgeous, R for Radiant, E for Extraordinary, V for Vivacious, I for Idolised (by me), L for Legs, L for Legs, E for Everything I have wanted.”

Giggs was also described as writing ‘poetry’ to his former partner which was widely derided as “cringeworthy” in the UK press, and in which he described Greville as making him “as hard as a totem pole.”

The trial continues.

Crimea air-defense interceptions caught on camera (VIDEOS)

The systems reportedly went off in the city of Evpatoria

Air-defense systems intercepted an unidentified object in the sky over Evpatoria, a city located on the western coast of the Crimean peninsula, on Friday night. The interception was caught on camera. 

“In Evpatoria, presumably, the air-defense system was activated. Crimea is under reliable protection,” an adviser to the head of the region, Oleg Kryuchkov, wrote on his Telegram channel.

An explosion in the sky, followed by a trace of smoke, can be seen in the footage circulating online. 

Some outlets speculated that a Ukrainian drone may have been shot down, following yesterday’s news that an unmanned aerial vehicle had been intercepted by air-defense systems in the vicinity of the Belbek airfield in Sevastopol, Crimea’s largest city. Air-defense systems were also activated in the city of Kerch, near the Crimean Bridge. 

The reports came after Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov said Kiev’s pledge not to attack Russian territory with Western-provided weapons would not apply to Crimea, which was later confirmed to Politico by an unnamed official in US President Joe Biden’s administration. 

READ MORE: US supports Ukraine attacking Crimea – Politico

Crimea broke away from Ukraine following a violent coup in Kiev in 2014 and voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to rejoin Russia, which was not recognized by the West.