Orban says EU sanctions have backfired

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says EU sanctions against Russia have “backfired” and driven up energy prices in the bloc.
  • The Kremlin says no decision has been taken on closing Russia’s borders after military-aged men fled following its partial mobilisation order.

    UK sanctions Russians linked to ‘sham’ referendums

    The United Kingdom has announced a new raft of sanctions in response to what it described as Russia’s “sham” referendums in four occupied regions of Ukraine.

    “The Russian regime has organised these sham referendums in a desperate attempt to grab land and justify their illegal war,” the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said in a statement.

    “The process reflects their approach in Crimea in 2014, combining disinformation, intimidation, and fake results. These referendums do not represent the demonstrated will of the Ukrainian people and are a severe violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and political independence,” it added, citing Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula eight years ago.

    The FCDO said the measures will specifically target individuals behind the votes in Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia on whether to join Russia, including several Moscow-installed officials in the occupied regions, a number of oligarchs, board executives from major state-owned banks and IMA Consulting, a firm described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “favourite PR agency”.

    NATO begins air force drills in Baltic region

    A collection of NATO member states have begun two days of training drills in the Baltic Sea region as the transatlantic military alliance moves to shore up its eastern defences in the face of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

    Air forces from Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Turkey, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom are taking part in the exercises. NATO candidate Finland is also involved in the drills.

    “The exercise series integrates more than two dozen fighter and support aircraft and NATO airborne early warning aircraft with NATO and national command and control centres,” NATO said in a statement.

    “The realistic drills train Allied forces to deter and – if needed – defend against any aggression,” it added.

    US announces $457.5m in civilian aid for Ukraine

    The United States will provide $457.5m in new civilian security aid for Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

    The aid is designed to help Ukrainian law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, Blinken tweeted.

    “We share their commitment to a democratic, independent and sovereign Ukraine,” he added.

    ‘No to war!’: Anger over troop conscription rages in Russia

    Hostility towards Russia’s troop mobilisation continues as violence broke out in an impoverished ethnic-minority region and a gunman opened fire at a recruitment office, seriously wounding the commandant.

    EU sanctions on Russia have ‘backfired’: Orban

    Hungary’s prime minister has criticised European Union sanctions on Russia, saying the moves have “backfired” by driving up energy prices.

    Viktor Orban told Hungary’s parliament that it was no surprise that governments were falling in Europe amid the crisis, referring to the Italian election on Sunday.

    He added Hungary should prepare for a prolonged war in neighbouring Ukraine, where Russia’s invasion has destroyed infrastructure, killed thousands of people and forced millions of others to flee from their homes.

    Roger Waters gigs cancelled in Poland after Ukraine comments

    Concerts by Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters have been cancelled by a venue in the Polish city of Krakow after the artist’s comments on the war in Ukraine caused a storm of criticism.

    Waters was to appear in Krakow in April, but Polish media reports about an open letter he wrote to Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska urging her to ask her husband to choose “a different route” and criticising the West for supplying Ukraine with arms provoked a fierce backlash.

    Confusion, anger across Russia over partial mobilisation: AJ correspondent

    Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Moscow, says there is widespread confusion and anger in Russia over the Kremlin’s push to reinforce its offensive in Ukraine by calling up hundreds of thousands of reserve troops to fight.

    Kremlin says no decisions taken on border closures

    The Kremlin says no decision has been taken on closing Russia’s borders following an exodus of military-age men since President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilisation of reserve troops last week.

    In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also acknowledged that some call-ups had been issued in error, and that mistakes would be corrected.

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