Participation until 5:00 p.m. in France falls more than four points compared to 2017

The sun was shining, finally after endless days of rain, in practically all of France this Sunday of the presidential elections in which almost 49 million French people are called to vote. But not even the splendid blue sky could prevent the shadow of abstention from looming, threatening, a democratic process that has been marked by high social disinterest between the tailwinds of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine and an electoral campaign almost invisible. Added to this is the general feeling that everything is decided in advance, that the 2017 finalists, outgoing President Emmanuel Macron, and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, will repeat the play and meet again in 15 days in the round definitive.

Like every Sunday, Simon waved the communist newspaper L’Humanité from one corner of the market in Place Saint-Denis, at the other end of the basilica where all the kings of France are buried until 1789, in this town on the impoverished outskirts of Parisian From midnight on Friday to Saturday, campaigning is prohibited, but nothing prevented him from showing the cover with the photo of the Communist Party candidate, Fabien Roussel, and starting a conversation with whoever wanted to listen. He acknowledges that this election day is rare, with little atmosphere after an also atypically soulless campaign. “It seems like any other Sunday,” he said. Of course, the market and the church were more crowded this Sunday than the polling stations in this city of the banlieueParisian, which traditionally registers one of the highest abstention rates in all of France. “The challenge is no longer just that people vote communist, but that they even go to vote today,” admitted this communist militant.

Two hours after the closing of the first polling stations, the trend detected since the morning of a lower turnout than five years ago was confirmed. According to the Ministry of the Interior, at 5:00 p.m., the percentage of votes was 65%, compared to 69.42% in 2017. Only in the year that everyone now looks with apprehension, 2002, when the extreme right was ranked for the first Once for the second round, the level was even lower, at 58.45%.

Queuing for the bus to return to the neighboring town of Stains, where she lives and works as a municipal official, Sandrine, a French woman of Moroccan origin in her fifties, acknowledged that she still did not know who she would vote for. Normally, she would have voted first thing in the morning. This time, she preferred to give herself a little more time. “This is the first time I really doubt. I don’t know who to vote for, I have the feeling that all the candidates could be put in the same bag, ”she sighed.

Sébastien, a 40-year-old resident of Saint-Denis, had just cast his vote, but he was not satisfied either. “There is no candidate that excites me,” he acknowledged. If he had decided to go to his electoral college, it was to avoid what analysts and polls have been warning for a long time: that the extreme right not only reaches the second round, as planned but even wins or loses by a minimal margin. of votes. “It is terrible to have to make a strategic vote, not out of adherence or conviction,” lamented this “left-wing” voter, as he defines himself.

If abstention is in the minds —and the fears— of many analysts and political leaders, it is because it was feared that it could reach a level never seen in a presidential election of 30%, according to the polls. Finally, the latest forecasts for Sunday set abstention at around 25-26.5%, several points more than in 2017, but below the 28.4% that it reached on a date that these days also brings back many (bad) memories: On April 21, 2002, almost 20 years ago now, the extreme right managed to get through to the second round led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front and father of today’s candidate Marine Le Pen at the head of the same party renamed National Regrouping (RN), with a basic ideology —nationalist, anti-immigrant, protectionist— nuanced but still similar. Also then, like today, many French people thought that the first round had already been decided (the favorite, the socialist Lionel Jospin, and the conservative Jacques Chirac would pass) and that nothing would happen if they did not vote, that they would do so in the second round.

The fact that the polls have been saying for weeks that the presidential duel will be resolved between Macron and Le Pen could discourage many voters from going to the polls this Sunday. With the danger that the advance of the RN now is not a circumstantial accident, but a stable progression —Le Pen already managed to get to the second round in 2017 and his party has maintained a stable vote base for years— and that, for the first time Once again, some polls and analyzes indicate that it would not be impossible to have a Le Pen as president, with the national and international consequences that this would have.

In an attempt to set an example, candidates and politicians were seen early this Sunday at their polling stations. The socialist and mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, was the first of the 12 presidential candidates to cast her vote, in the 15th district of the capital, shortly before nine in the morning. Hidalgo is not expected to lead the party any further after a vote in which the most disastrous and potentially devastating results in the history of the French Socialist Party (PS) are predicted, less than 3% of the vote, behind not only the communist Roussel, who also voted early, but even for the ruralist and almost anecdotal candidate Jean Lasalle.

The only candidate from the left with any chance is the populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is ranked third in voting intentions by the polls, but with little chance of qualifying for the second round. All attempts to present a single candidacy of the left have failed miserably since the great debacle of the left in 2017. “It is deplorable”, Sébastien in Saint-Denis was outraged. “Then they will come to cry because the extreme right is advancing.”

Boris Johnson meets Zelensky in kyiv

The Embassy of Ukraine in the United Kingdom has been in charge of revealing a surprise trip that, due to security measures, has been kept in the utmost secrecy. A photograph of the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the Ukrainian President, Volodímir Zelenski, in what appears to be an official room of the presidential building in Kyiv, has revealed the meeting of both this Saturday in the capital of the country invaded by Russia.

Johnson has maintained almost daily communication with Zelensky and has been one of the European leaders who have most promoted the shipment of defensive weapons to Ukraine. The British prime minister had just announced, a few hours before his arrival in Kyiv, an increase of almost 120 million euros more in the shipment of war material, after learning about and strongly condemning the Russian attack on Friday at the Kramatorsk train station, which left behind more than fifty dead.

Downing Street sources have defined this visit as “a show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.” A British government spokesman reported that the two leaders were going to discuss “the United Kingdom’s long-term support for Ukraine”, and that Johnson would specify to Zelenski the details of “a new package of military and financial aid”.

Johnson arrived in Kyiv this Saturday by train one day after the visit of Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, and Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for Foreign Policy, who were also able to meet with the Ukrainian president. At the end of the meeting, the British Prime Minister tweeted: “Today I met with my friend President Zelensky in Kyiv to show our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine.”

The British president has announced a new contribution of military aid consisting of 120 armored vehicles and an anti-frigate missile system, to support Ukraine in this crucial phase while the illegal Russian attack continues. This contribution is added to the military material worth 120 million that Johnson had already announced and that includes a new consignment of Startreak anti-aircraft missiles, another 800 anti-tank missiles, and a batch of high-precision ammunition.

Johnson has also announced new financial support for the Government of Ukraine, which will consist of a new loan of 500 million dollars (460 million euros) through the World Bank. The British Prime Minister wanted to praise the figure of Zelensky, of whom he said that “his resolute leadership, his invincible heroism and the courage of the Ukrainian people have succeeded in frustrating Putin’s monstrous goals”.

Andrii Sabiha, the deputy chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, has assured on his Facebook page that “the United Kingdom is the leader in defensive support for Ukraine. The leader of the anti-war coalition. And the leader of the sanctions against the Russian aggressor”.

The Kremlin reorganizes its military leadership in Ukraine and puts in charge a general with experience in Syria

The Kremlin changes its chain of command after a month and a half of war that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced as a “special military operation” for the protection of the Donbas region. Moscow has put General Alexander Dvornikov at the head of its campaign, a military man familiar with that scenario, since he was head of Russia’s Southern Military District since 2016, and who also has extensive experience of the bloody war in Syria, as reported by the BBC.

The sources of the British chain point out that the Kremlin seeks with this appointment to centralize the coordination of its almost 100 tactical battalions, which until now have acted almost independently and have found a better-organized rival. “Unless Russia changes its tactics, it is very difficult for it to achieve even the limited objectives it has set for itself,” a Western source told the BBC.

Dvornikov was the first commander of the Russian Armed Forces during Moscow’s open intervention in Syria. The Kremlin sent it in 2015 to protect the Bashar al-Assad regime against the different opposition factions formed after the 2011 insurrection and the self-styled Islamic State, and that country served as a testing ground for the Russian Army.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu boasted in an interview in 2021 that the Kremlin had fine-tuned all its new weapons in the war in Syria, where more than 350,000 people have died, according to UN figures. “There we have tested about 320 [weapons]. In fact, we’ve looked at all the weapons except the easy-to-handle versions,” he stated.

Dvornikov, who received the title of Hero of the Russian Federation on that battlefield, could apply in Ukraine what he learned in Syria. In fact, there is a fear that Moscow will use the same type of tactics in the absence of progress, which would include sieges and bombardments like those suffered by Aleppo.

In addition to the reorganization of the Russian military leadership in Ukraine, Kyiv assures that several high-ranking officials have been dismissed in recent weeks. One of the most important dismissals, and confirmed by Moscow, is that of the deputy commander of the National Guard Román Gavrílov, who had under his command the special forces of this group.

A sea of ​​flower crowns

In a month and a half of war, Russia has only offered an official casualty figure twice, but there is not a day when a local newspaper announces a new drama to its neighbors. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, admitted this week in an interview that his country has suffered “significant losses” on the front, and made mention of the 1,351 dead that his government acknowledged on March 25. However, not only Western and Ukrainian intelligence services warn that real casualties greatly multiply official ones: the constant trickle of news in the local media and the tributes also point to the fact that the Russian tragedy is much greater than the world acknowledges. Kremlin.

At least 55 soldiers of the 247th Cossack airborne assault regiment died in combat, according to various information and tributes published on the Internet by the newspaper Baynie Istoria, declared an undesirable organization by the authorities. Another outlet, Radio Liberty, revealed a video of the cemetery in the city the unit came from, Mikhailovsk, where scores of freshly dug graves stretched out on the horizon in a sea of ​​regimental flags and wreaths.

As the war progresses, more and more dramas reach families. A month ago, on March 8, the governor of the Siberian region of Kemerovo, Sergei Tsivillyov, barely managed to hear a tense woman standing up and asking him why they had sent the police to the front: “They lied to everyone, then they betrayed They were in some military exercises and they were sent as cannon fodder. Why did they send our boys there? ”, She blamed her.

“It’s a special operation, you couldn’t tell anyone,” the politician tried to answer. Among those killed in Ukraine are police officers from OMON, the National Guard riot unit used to disperse demonstrations, but which, like other specialized combat units, signed contracts by which they can be sent to the front.

In the following weeks, there has been a constant trickle of news and publications on social networks where the Russians have known more tragedies. “I’ll leave him in a year,” a 22-year-old tanker told his fiancée before the war. “He wanted to start a quiet life, he was serious about the wedding, but instead of Mendelssohn’s march, the relatives gathered to say goodbye to Ruslán with the funeral march”, collected a chronicle of the Tsargrad channel, one more story of many. According to the Ukrainian government, 18,900 Russians would have died in the military campaign, and among the confirmed casualties there are even several high-ranking generals and commanders.

In public channels, the wounds of war in its crudest form among Russians rarely appear. On March 28, the first television in the country, Pervy Kanal, showed the delivery of medals to a group of mutilated in combat, while the daily report of the war offered every day by the Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Koleshnikov, only mentions the “targets” destroyed by his forces, such as anti-aircraft systems, tanks and what Moscow calls “infrastructure” of the enemy. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexánder Fomin was present at that award ceremony. His department has reorganized the entire leadership of the front after extending 45 days what the Kremlin has officially called a “special military operation for the defense of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.” On March 25, a month after the offensive began, the Russian high command stated that it would focus on taking the eastern region of Donbas after an unsuccessful advance on other fronts to the north around Kyiv and Kharkiv, as well as a long siege against the southern city of Mariupol, key to linking controlled territory in Donbas with Crimea along the Black Sea coast.

The offensive, ordered by Putin in February, has just a month to go before reaching the symbolic May 9, Victory Day. Both Ukraine and Russia each year celebrate the date the Soviet Union achieved German capitulation, although Kyiv changed its name to Victory Day over Nazism in World War II in 2015 to distance itself from Moscow and its Great Patriotic War.

Von der Leyen promises Zelensky in kyiv to speed up the EU accession process and more money for weapons

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has taken advantage of her symbolic visit to Ukraine this Friday to promise President Volodímir Zelensky to speed up his country’s EU accession process and increase the supply fund by 500 million euros. armament. “While Russia falls into an economic, financial, and technological decline, Ukraine walks towards a European future”, he assured at a press conference in Kyiv after returning with the head of the community diplomacy, Josep Borrell, from the scene of one of the largest horrors of war, the town of Bucha, where, said the leader, “the unthinkable has happened.”

To illustrate the commitment to accelerate entry into the community club, von der Leyen has hand-delivered to Zelensky a technical document of the accession process, which Ukraine requested shortly after the Russian invasion began. “It will not be a matter of years, as usual, to form an opinion, but of weeks, I think,” said Von der Leyen in the main act of a visit that has also served to announce the reopening of the EU diplomatic mission in Kyiv as a sign of normalcy and confidence that the Ukrainian government is in control of the country.

The document, which both leaders leafed through with a smile at the end of the appearance, is called a questionnaire in community jargon. It serves the European Commission to measure the readiness of a country to obtain candidate status. The Commission does not decide on the entry of a country into the Union, but it does form the “opinion” that Von der Leyen mentioned about recommending it to the European Council, that is, the 27 member countries that have to approve it unanimously. Zelensky undertook to complete it within a week.

With the announcement of an increase in military aid made during the visit, the community allocation to supply Ukraine with weapons now totals 1,500 million euros. “The least we can do is give you weapons,” said Borrell, looking at Zelenski, in brief participation in the appearance. “You need guns, guns, guns.”

Beyond the announcements, the displacement – ​​which began with the arrival by train from Poland early in the morning on a trip in which the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Eduard Heger, also participated – has a clear symbolic component for two reasons. On the one hand, due to the force of the image of two prominent community leaders meeting with Zelensky in Kyiv itself, whose capture seemed imminent on the third day of the invasion when Russian troops were fighting Ukrainian troops on a bridge a few kilometers from the palace. presidential.

The visit, the highest level to the city in the 44 days of the war, has taken place once the Russian forces have withdrawn from the surroundings of the country’s capital to concentrate their offensive in the south and east of the territory, where an attack on the Kramatorsk train station has killed at least 52 people trying to escape the war this Friday. Borrell defined the bombing on Twitter as “one more attempt to close the exit routes for those fleeing this unjustified war” and, later, Von der Leyen dedicated the adjectives “appalling”, “horrible” and “atrocious”.

It is also symbolic for including Bucha, a city northwest of Kyiv, whose images of civilian corpses – some handcuffed – in the streets and mass graves have become iconic and spurred this Thursday the first sanctions against the Russian energy sector and the expulsion of Moscow of the UN Human Rights Council with 79% of the valid votes.

“We have seen the cruel face of [Vladimir] Putin’s army. We have seen recklessness and lack of compassion there, ”said Von der Leyen in Bucha. In Kyiv, Borrell has declared himself “very moved” by what he has witnessed there, has spoken directly of “war crimes” and has promised the help of the EU to the Ukrainian prosecutors who are investigating whether the Russian troops committed them, facing to the International Criminal Court.

Since his arrival in the Ukrainian capital, Borrell wanted to underline the meaning of his presence. “Ukraine controls its territory. It is not an invaded, dominated country. There is still a government that receives people from abroad and you can travel to Kyiv”, he declared. In the subsequent press conference with Zelenski, he has returned to that idea by mentioning the “failure” of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in the face of the “courage” of Ukraine. To underline the Russian withdrawal, he has confirmed the reopening of the EU diplomatic mission. “I can confirm that the EU returns to Kyiv. It is literal: our head of delegation is going back to Kyiv, so we will be able to work even more directly and more closely”, he assured.

European leaders arrived with a recent achievement in the suitcase: the first sanctions on Russia’s energy sector. The fifth package of measures, approved on Thursday, includes a ban on imports of Russian coal that was not in the draft a week ago. At the press conference, Von der Leyen defended their effectiveness as “harmful and intelligent, because they harm Russia more than us”, but Zelenski considered them “insufficient” and called for new “profound” measures and the “application full” of the above. Viktor Orbán’s Hungary opposes any further step, such as turning off the tap on Russian oil or gas.

In their meetings with Zelensky and the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denis Shmihal, Von der Leyen and Borrell have conveyed “a very strong message: the EU is with you”, said the President of the Commission. “Your fight is our fight,” she added. The Ukrainian president has considered the visit “a very powerful signal that Ukraine and the EU are together”.

The displacement has been marked by strong security measures. The place of the press conference after the meeting with Zelensky was kept secret and the journalists were summoned at the last minute to a meeting point. Already early in the morning, the Slovak Prime Minister confirmed on Twitter the arrival in Kyiv from the Przemsil train station a few minutes after Borrell announced that they were on their way and Von der Leyen expressed his desire to reach the capital. Ukraine’s presidential spokesman, Sergii Nikiforov, already stated at the time that hardly any details would be announced for security reasons.

The Prime Minister of Slovakia has offered Zelenski his country’s help to sell Ukrainian wheat and contain the increase in its price throughout the world, 22% since the beginning of the Russian invasion. The proposal is that Ukraine, a large producer of this cereal, exports it through the logistics hub of Kosice, a Slovak city very close to the Hungarian border and a few dozen kilometers from Ukraine.

The leaders will participate in Warsaw on Saturday in a fundraising event for war refugees. His visit is the second by community representatives after the one made last week by the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, who also met with Zelenski. On March 15, when the situation around Kyiv was more dangerous, the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, traveled with his deputy prime minister and leader of the ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski; from Slovenia, Janez Jansa, and from the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala, in an initiative from which the European Commission distanced itself.

Food prices soar in March at its fastest rate in 14 years due to the war in Ukraine

Food prices reached a new record in March, the third in a row, boosted by the war in Ukraine. The index prepared monthly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which collects developments around the world, closed the month with an increase of 33.6% compared to March 2021, its highest rate in 14 years, and stands at 159 points, the highest level in the historical series, which began in 1990. The armed conflict is wreaking havoc on the supply chains that originate in the area, especially in products such as cereals and sunflower oil, and has disrupted the functioning of parts of world trade flows.

The record rise in the prices of the most basic foodstuffs indicates that the inflationary spiral that threatens the recovery of the world economy will continue to worsen. Only between February and March, the rise in the index was 13%, according to the FAO. It is “a giant leap”, according to the UN agency. Last month’s increase was the seventh in a row. There haven’t been as many uninterrupted increases since 2008.

Both Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of grain and sunflower oil. From that area, known as the granary of Europe, comes 30% of the total wheat consumed in the world. Although Russia has continued to sell wheat, sanctions have complicated payments and logistics, while Ukrainian ports have been closed since the beginning of the invasion on February 24 and it is also unclear whether the country’s farmers will be able to go ahead with future crops, so the supply may be in jeopardy for months. The conflict is also causing an extraordinary rise in energy, and rising production costs, which also indirectly contributes to the rise in food prices.

The FAO index reflects that vegetable oils, cereals, and meat have been the main responsible for this historical rise: they increased by an average of 17.1% compared to February, the highest level since 1990. “The rise is driven in largely due to conflict-related disruptions to exports from Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, from the Russian Federation,” the agency explains. Specifically, world wheat prices rose by 19.7% in March, while coarse grains became more expensive by 20.4%, with a new record for the prices of corn (19.1%), barley (27 .1%), and sorghum (17.3%).

The rise in food prices already began months before the war broke out, in part due to the warming caused by the rapid recovery after two years of a harsh pandemic and also due to the decrease in the production of some crops due to bad weather. . These increases are accelerating since February. Between mid-2020 and today, global prices have increased by 75%, above the levels recorded in 2008 and 2011, years that ended up leading to major food crises.

The rises are generalized in the basic food basket, such as milk (seven consecutive months on the rise). “Dairy product prices continued their upward trend, supported in particular by growing shortages on world markets as milk production in Western Europe and Oceania was insufficient to meet global demand,” according to the FAO. Also, meat, whose index is at historical highs, due to the lower supply.

The war and supply problems are affecting countries like Spain, not only because of the general rise in prices but also because of the scarcity of some products. In the Spanish case, the one that has the most impact is sunflower oil, on which it is highly dependent. Manufacturers that use it, especially for processed and preserved products, are looking for alternatives in other vegetable oils. But these are also becoming more expensive, like palm, soybean, and rapeseed.

The increase in prices puts Western economies in check, but its effects are especially devastating in poor countries, where the shopping basket absorbs almost the entire budget of families and any rise in prices directly affects their most basic food, such as bread. Recently, the World Food Program warned that the rise in prices in the Middle East and North Africa, highly dependent on imports, is pushing the population to the limit. According to the FAO, about 50 countries depend significantly on Ukraine and Russia to cover more than 30% of their wheat imports.

The UN expels Russia from its Human Rights Council for the invasion of Ukraine

This time abstentions did not count. And it took two-thirds of yeses at the United Nations General Assembly to make the symbolically charged decision to suspend Russia’s participation in the UN Human Rights Council for “serious and systematic violations and abuses” committed during the invasion of Ukraine. Of the 193 Member States, 176 have voted: a total of 93 have spoken in favor, in an extraordinary session held this Thursday in New York; 24, against. Discounting the 58 abstentions, the resolution has gone ahead with 79% of the 117 valid votes.

The proposal, which represents a diplomatic setback for Russia, was presented last Monday by the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, after learning about the atrocities allegedly committed by the Russian army in Bucha. In that northern suburb of the capital, Kyiv, which was under the control of the invading forces for just over a month, the withdrawal of troops last weekend left behind dozens of civilian bodies lying in the streets and half-buried in mass graves, many with signs of torture. These acts were described by the president of the United States, Joe Biden, as “war crimes” and by his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodímir Zelensky, after a visit to the area, as evidence of a “genocide”. Moscow maintains that everything is a setup, despite the evidence to the contrary, the accounts of witnesses and journalists on the ground and satellite images.

After the vote, Gennady Kuzmin, a member of the Russian delegation to the UN, called the expulsion “illegitimate” and announced that Russia was leaving the Human Rights Council on its own and completely. “You don’t hand in your resignation after they kick you out,” responded the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN. Russia was serving the second year of the three that the regulations established for the countries that serve on a rotating basis in the Council. Thursday’s General Assembly vote left open the possibility that Russia’s suspension from the Council could later be lifted, but Russia’s determination already makes that impossible. The United States also left this Council in 2018 due to what it described as a chronic bias against Israel and the lack of reforms in the body.

Regarding the vote in the Assembly, there is only one precedent for the motion adopted this Thursday: the suspension of Libya in 2011 due to evidence of the use of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-President Muammar Gaddafi. The body, founded in 2006 and based in Geneva, is made up of 47 States, “responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world.” It is not qualified to make legally binding decisions, but it can initiate investigations. Russia is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The text voted on Thursday reflects a “serious concern about the current humanitarian and human rights crisis in Ukraine, in particular about reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international law by Russia.”

Moscow – which has described the move as “an attempt by the United States to maintain its dominance” and to “use human rights colonialism in international relations” – had asked an unspecified number of countries to vote against the move. suspension. He warned them, according to a document obtained by the AP agency, that a yes or gestures of abstaining or not voting (both useless to Russia’s interests) would be interpreted by the Kremlin as a deterioration in bilateral relations.

Before the vote, the Ukrainian ambassador, Sergei Kislitsia, delivered an impassioned speech in which he once again recalled the precedent of the Holocaust and said that supporting the suspension “is a duty, not an option”. Afterward, the representatives of Kazakhstan, Venezuela, North Korea, China, Iran, Syria, and Cuba took the floor to express their opposition to the resolution, as well as their intention to vote against it. They cited arguments such as the lack of an independent investigation into military operations against civilians, the inaction of the UN in previous cases in which the United States was involved, or the counterproductive effects of such a decision on the peace negotiations.

The Chinese Zhang Jun has described the measure as “hasty”. “It forces the countries to take sides, it will aggravate the division between the Member States and intensify the confrontation; it is like adding fuel to the fire”, he assured. Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa warned, for their part, that they would abstain.

Since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the UN Assembly has adopted two resolutions condemning Russia’s actions with 141 and 140 votes in favor, respectively. Moscow continues to refuse to call the invasion a “war” and speaks of a “special operation” to demilitarize the neighboring country.

After learning of Russia’s suspension, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmitro Kuleba, congratulated himself on Twitter: “There is no place for war criminals in the UN agencies dedicated to the defense of human rights. Grateful to all member states that have supported this important resolution and have chosen to stand on the right side of history.”

NATO will reinforce the shipment of weapons to Ukraine to stop the Russian advance

The battle in Donbas, the Russophone region in eastern Ukraine, is going to intensify in the coming weeks. Given this certainty, announced by Kyiv and endorsed by the allies, Ukraine asks for more support from the West. “My agenda is very simple: weapons, weapons, and weapons,” Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba repeatedly declared this Thursday at NATO, where he was invited to the meeting held by allied foreign ministers. The organization has agreed to that requirement. Its secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, has stated: “The allies are ready to strengthen and maintain support for Ukraine” and “recognize the urgency of providing more support.” The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has also emphasized this message: “We are looking day and night at how we can include new [warfare] systems and provide them [with them]; We listen to their needs.”

Neither the Norwegian nor the American have wanted to be more explicit, but the answers reveal the will of the military organization to intensify support for Ukraine at a time when the war is experiencing a certain stagnation after the Russian advance has stopped. Hardly any Western leaders give details of what kind of weapons are being shipped. “It is important to understand that the allies do not want to be specific. But they are providing a wide range of weapons, Soviet-era systems, but also modern equipment,” said the NATO secretary-general when asked what kind of weapons the countries are willing to send.

Despite the vagueness of the announcement, the explanations give some clues that the material projected by the coalition for the next phase of the war will be more powerful. “I think the distinction between offensive and defensive is a bit strange, because we are talking about providing weapons to a country that defends itself, and self-defense is a right enshrined in the UN charter,” Stoltenberg slipped. Until recently, it was common to hear this type of distinction. And both on previous days and this Thursday, the NATO leader himself has indicated that the Ukrainians must be given “lighter weapons and heavier weapons”. In addition, in recent days details have been revealed that reveal a more powerful supply of material by the allies: the Czech Republic has sent tanks, according to the Wall Street Journal, and this Thursday the British newspaper The Times published that the United Kingdom is considering sending armored vehicles.

Beyond these revelations, what is known is that the weapons sent to Kyiv to date consist, above all, of anti-tank weapons and missiles, anti-aircraft defense systems, grenade launchers, sniper rifles… Also training in the use of these weapons, as Stoltenberg and Blinken have highlighted. The latter has underlined the importance of the aid provided to Ukraine and has considered it the second cause that has caused the Russian failure in the attempt to take the Ukrainian capital. The first, according to Blinken’s analysis, is the “courage” of the Ukrainian people.

At the entrance to the meeting with the allied ministers, Kuleba specified some of his requests. These included “aircraft, ship missiles, armored vehicles, and heavy anti-aircraft weapons.” However, at the exit he has refused to be specific – “weapons need silence, I will not be specific” – and “cautiously optimistic” because “there is a growing understanding that support must increase.” Instead, he has indeed adopted a much more demanding tone with deadlines. The Ukrainians anticipate that in the coming weeks Russia will intensify its offensive in the east of the country, “the battle of Donbas”, as Kuleba has called it. Hence, he himself implores that the arrival of the weapons is “a matter of days, not weeks.”

The urgency comes because “ Russia did not withdraw from Kyiv because it wanted to create a constructive atmosphere in the ceasefire negotiations ”, Kuleba warned. “It was to have additional resources in Donbas. The battle for Donbas is still going on”, continued the minister, who recalled that this area was one of the most punished on the eastern front during World War II.

The urgency in the supply of weapons was the main message transmitted by the Ukrainian delegation at the end of the meeting at NATO headquarters, where, in addition to the 30 allied ministers, the top diplomatic officials from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, Finland, and Georgia, as well as the High Representative for EU Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell. “The debate is not on the list of weapons, but on the deadlines. Today it is more important to know when”, Kuleba insisted. And on this point, he has indeed reproached the allies, something that he has exemplified with a chapter that happened in the first days of the invasion: “Then I asked an allied minister to send us a type of weapon and he replied: ‘ Dmitro, we can’t send that because he needs two months of training’. If we had it now… This is the problem of the allies”, he lamented.

NATO seems to have gotten the message. “The allies recognize the urgency of providing more support,” Stoltenberg admitted on several occasions during his press conference. “We have a great sense of urgency,” said Blinken, who stressed that he speaks many times a week with Kuleba to determine what Ukraine needs and what can be sent to it.

To convince them to send these weapons quickly, Kyiv has also played the “Euro-Atlantic security” card. “This is indivisible. We are not defending ourselves alone. If they give us what we need, we will fight for our security and also for yours [that of the entire West]”, Kuleba used in an intervention in which he combined his demands with emotional arguments with ease, following the model of the president, Volodímir Zelenski. Along these lines, he stressed that if the material he claims arrives earlier, more deaths will be avoided, more tragic episodes such as the one experienced in Bucha, where civilians have been indiscriminately attacked and corpses have appeared with their hands tied to the back. “People are dying today”, he has alleged, with a mention also of Mariupol, where he has predicted a drama far greater than Bucha’s.

The Hollywood Academy vetoes Will Smith for 10 years in any act of the institution, including the Oscars

Will Smith has been banned from any event at the Hollywood Film Academy for a decade. This Friday, the organization has communicated the punishment decided for the actor for having hit the comedian Chris Rock the night of the Oscars after a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. “For a period of 10 years, beginning April 8, Mr. Smith will not be able to participate in any event or program, in person or virtually,” the president of the academy, David Rubin, says in an open letter, and the CEO, Dawn Hudson. The institution thus closes its doors to the latest winner of the Oscar for best actor.

Will Smith has assumed the punishment imposed. “I accept and respect the decision of the Academy,” the actor said through a spokesman. The sanction adopted by the group of governors of the organization in an emergency meeting does not prevent him from being nominated for an Oscar again during the time of the veto. Smith received his first nomination for Ali in 2001, his second in 2006 for The Pursuit of Happyness. The third came 15 years later and was the one that earned him the statuette.

Smith anticipated the Academy’s decision last Friday when he announced that he was resigning as a member of the body. “I betrayed the trust of the academy and deprived the nominees and winners of an opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work,” the actor said in a statement. The Oscar winner claimed to have a “broken heart”, although, in this way he avoided joining the dishonorable list of five names, the academics expelled after the emergence of the Me Too movement: the producer and distributor Harvey Weinstein, the comedian Bill Cosby, the director Roman Polanski and the director of photography for Capote and Never Let Me Go, Adam Kimmel, who has been prosecuted for having sex with minors. Previously, in 2004, the academy expelled actor Carmine Caridi, one of the supporting cast of The Godfather, for lending a friend the VHS tapes and DVDs distributed by production companies for academics to watch his films. That friend turned out to be one of the most famous movie pirates.

In the text published this Friday, Rubin, and Hudson apologize for not having handled the situation “properly” on the night of the Oscars, on the 27th in Los Angeles. “This was an opportunity for us to set an example with our guests and viewers, and we fell short by not being prepared for the unexpected,” the statement said. The best standing that night, which seems to be the general consensus, was Rock himself, who went ahead with the delivery of the Oscar for best documentary feature. The president of the organization thanked the comedian for having maintained his “composure” after the attack.

The academy intends with its decision to put an end to almost two weeks of controversy. But the acts and conversations from Smith’s slap in the face to Rock until the former won the best actor statuette for The Williams Method remain unclear. Rubin said last week that the academy asked Smith to leave after the hit and he refused. This version was later denied to Variety magazine by people close to the actor. According to various sources, the interpreter received mixed messages.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times recreated in a report the tense minutes that followed Smith’s attack. The newspaper, which interviewed a dozen people present, said that Rubin and Dawn Hudson, the CEO of the academy, got up from their seats and met 10 minutes after the slap. They asked Rock how he was doing and went in search of Smith’s publicist, Meredith O’Sullivan. A lawyer met them in a room. A message came out of the meeting for the actor, the academy wanted him out of the theater as soon as possible. O’Sullivan was supposed to pass the message to her client during a commercial break. When she did, however, it was in the form of a question. “The academy thinks you should leave, what do you think?” The publicist formulated, according to the newspaper.

The ceremony’s producer, Will Packer, approached O’Sullivan and Smith moments before the category statuette was handed out to deliver one final mixed message: “Officially, we want him to stay.” Some sources believe that Packer, who was headlining the production for ABC for the first time, made this comment on his behalf and at his risk to save the night one last emotionally charged television moment. That is to say, the speech, Oscar in hand, of a Smith bathed in tears. This was the high point of the broadcast.

The West reacts indignantly to the possible war crimes of Moscow

The Russian invasion of Ukraine already has an atrocity with its own name in the history of alleged war crimes: Bucha. The European Union and a large part of the international community have reacted this Sunday with stupor at the discovery of the massacres committed in that town north of Kyiv. This is the first tangible and visible proof of the death and devastation in the areas occupied by the troops of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who were besieging the Ukrainian capital. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has assured that the EU will collaborate with Ukraine and with NGOs to collect the necessary evidence to judge the atrocities of the Russian army before international courts.

The condemnation of Brussels has been joined by the United States, in the mouth of its Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who has stated that the images of Bucha are a “punch in the stomach” and the Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who has described as “brutality” the murder of civilians in this town on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital. This international condemnation coincides with the publication of a report by the Human Right Watch organization on possible war crimes at various points on the northern front of the war.

The Ukrainian government of Volodímir Zelenski, who will take the case this Tuesday before the UN Security Council, has requested a mission in the field of the International Criminal Court. Along these same lines, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has called for an independent investigation.

Bucha’s images have revealed, perhaps for the first time since the start of the war on February 24, the magnitude of the violence provoked by Putin’s war against the neighboring country. After the withdrawal of the Russian army, the Ukrainian forces have found dozens of civilians dead and abandoned in the middle of the street and mass graves with half-buried corpses.

The EU and the United States “urgently” prepare more sanctions for the Russian “atrocities” in Bucha

The European Union and the United States are preparing new sanctions against Russia after the “atrocities” against the civilian population of Ukraine that have shaken most governments and public opinion in the world. The community bloc assures that it will advance in this direction “as a matter of urgency” and condemns in the “strongest terms” the massacres perpetrated by the Russian armed forces in their withdrawal from several occupied Ukrainian cities that have now been liberated, as The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, advanced this Monday.

Shortly before, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has asked for tougher sanctions in response to the discovery of hundreds of bodies of civilians allegedly killed by Russian troops in Bucha, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, abandoned on roads or inside buildings, some of them with their hands tied behind their backs or shot in the neck. Different world leaders have denounced the events in recent hours, something that China has not done, which maintains its calculated equidistance in favor of Russia in the Ukraine war.

Joe Biden stressed that the United States will approve “new sanctions” and that the Russian leader must be tried for war crimes. The president launched into a story about what happened before the press before anyone asked him. As soon as he arrived at the White House from his house in the State of Delaware, he addressed the group of journalists who usually await him and indicated that he wanted to make “a comment before starting the day.” “You may remember that I was criticized for saying that Putin is a war criminal [he also called him a “butcher”]. Well, the truth is that what we have seen in Bucha confirms it, he is a war criminal”, he pointed out.

Now, he added, all the necessary information and details must be gathered in order to put Putin on trial for war crimes. Also, he continued, we must “continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need.” “This guy is brutal, what is happening in Bucha is appalling and everyone has seen it. They are war crimes,” insisted the president. The United States also calls for the exclusion of Russia from the Human Rights Council of the Human Rights Organization (UN).

To date, the EU and the US have approved four retaliatory packages against the Kremlin, but the latest round dates back to March 15, almost three weeks ago. The Baltic countries, which are among the most belligerent against Russia, denounce that a certain “sanction fatigue” has spread in Brussels and have been demanding for days that decisive steps be taken to take more drastic measures, such as cutting energy imports from Russia.