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In today’s news from the capitals:
The Kremlin’s war on Ukraine is another blow to European automakers, already reeling from the pandemic and global chip shortages. Read more.
Germany is investigating suspected fuel price scams. The Economy Ministry is investigating why petrol prices have remained high despite oil prices plummeting following price accusations agreements between oil companies. Read more.
France presents a plan to limit the impact of Russian sanctions. A French “resilience plan” to deal with sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine was announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex on Wednesday. Read more.
Vienna is pushing for sanctions against more Russian oligarchs. The Austrian government is pushing to include more oligarchs in the fifth round of sanctions against Russia. Read more.
The Dutch could face recession following the war in Ukraine. The Dutch economy could face a recession following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Read more.
UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
Irish journalist killed in Ukraine.Irish cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski was one of two journalists killed in Ukraine this week in an attack that left another journalist seriously injured. Read more.
NORDIC AND BALTIC
Sweden does not rule out sending additional weapons to Ukraine. The government has received responses from the country’s armed forces on what can be sent to the Ukrainian army in addition to the equipment already sent, the SVT television channel reported. Read more.
Denmark will join a possible peacekeeping mission in Ukraine. Denmark is ready to send soldiers on a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, Defense Minister Morten Bødskov has said after Poland suggested such a mission be carried out. Read more.
Estonian parliament demands no-fly zone over Ukraine. Estonia’s Riikokogu parliament is calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine and has encouraged the EU and NATO to strengthen Ukraine’s alliances with the West. Read more.
Lithuania will create a “complex solution” on fuel prices. As fuel prices rise in Lithuania, the government is looking for “complex solutions” rather than focusing specifically on fuel, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė has said. Read more.
The Spanish government will increase the defense budget. The government will gradually increase the country’s defense budget, to almost 2% of Spanish GDP, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed on Wednesday, despite criticism from his left-wing coalition partner Unidas Podemos (United We Can). Read more.
Italian aircraft very close to the Ukrainian war zone. Italian fighters are currently deployed near the war zone in Ukraine, Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Luca Goretti said on Wednesday. Read more.
Portugal can receive Ukrainians, hope they will fill vacancies. Portugal has the capacity to receive Ukrainians and needs people to work because, every month, about 23,000 vacancies remain vacant, said Claudia Pereira, Secretary of State for Integration and Migration, on Wednesday. Read more.
The Czech Prime Minister suggests that EU countries could grant asylum to Russian deserters. EU countries should take care of Russian soldiers who no longer want to fight, said Prime Minister Petr Fiala who, after his visit to Kyiv, presented several ideas on how the EU could further support the Ukraine facing the Russian invasion. Read more.
Poland launches mass registration campaign for Ukrainian refugees. Poland is preparing to accept hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians into its administrative system, which will facilitate the permanent migration of Ukrainians to Poland and other EU countries in the future. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria will stop using Russian gas by 2023. The Bulgarian government is working on a plan to replace Russian gas after the long-term contract with Gazprom expires at the end of 2022, the chairman of the board of directors of the state gas company, Bulgargaz Ivan Topchiiski, announced. Read more.
ZAGREB | MADRID
Sanchez: An error with the crash of a drone in Zagreb threatens the allies. The EU and NATO must learn from the “mistake” of the crash of an unmanned aerial vehicle last week in Zagreb because “we are facing a war”, the Prime Minister said on Wednesday in Madrid Spanish Pedro Sánchez after meeting his Croatian counterpart, Andrej Plenković. Read more.
US F-16 of the NATO Southern Flank Air Police. Two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft are deployed to Croatia’s Pleso Air Base to conduct a combat exercise with Croatian allies “while supporting NATO’s collective defense in Southeast Europe”, the forces said on Wednesday. Americans at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Read more.
Brussels increases quotas for Serbian steel exports to the EU. The European Commission has increased quotas for Serbian exports of various types of steel to the EU market, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce announced on Wednesday. Read more.
The Serbian flag carrier has lobbied to reduce flights to Moscow. National flag bearer Air Serbia will have to “reset factory settings” and operate eight weekly flights instead of the current 15 to Moscow as it did before the crisis, following pressure from Europe, the Politics newspaper reported Wednesday. Read more.
EU Borrell: BiH security more important after Ukraine invasion. The EU will continue to support peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell confirmed on Wednesday, noting that this became particularly important after Russia invaded Ukraine. Read more.
Russian ambassador says BiH can join NATO, but Moscow will react. Bosnia and Herzegovina has the right to decide whether or not to join NATO, Russian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Igor Kalbukhov said, warning however that Moscow reserves the right to respond to such an eventuality. Read more.
The Central Bank of North Macedonia will keep its historically low key interest rate unchanged. North Macedonia’s central bank said on Wednesday that it had decided to leave its key rate unchanged at the historic low of 1.25%, as the current monetary policy supports lending to businesses and citizens, which supports the continuation the recovery of the economy. Read more.
North Macedonia looking for alternatives if Russia cuts gas supply. North Macedonia is exploring other ways to get gas, including via the Greek city of Alexandroupoli, if Russia suspends natural gas supplies to Europe, government sources said.
The supply of Macedonian natural gas is entirely dependent on Russia via a gas pipeline which passes through Bulgaria. Most economic operators in the country run on natural gas. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Montenegro must repay Credit Suisse to release gold. The government will repay a €30 million loan due to Credit Suisse Bank on April 11 to recover the gold placed as collateral for that loan, Finance and Social Affairs Minister Milojko Spajić said. Read more.
Civil society says police violence in Albania must end. A coalition of 18 civil society organizations as well as journalists has called on the Albanian police to stop using violence against protesters and respect the human rights of assembly following an increase in incidents. Read more.
- EU: EU Environment Ministers meet in Brussels / Commissioners Elisa Ferreira and Nicolas Schmit host the Cohesion Forum / Launch of the “Ukrainian Platform” in the European Parliament’s Station Europe building / Ukrainian Minister for Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, addresses the committee of the European Parliament
- Germany: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will deliver a video message to the plenary of the German Bundestag / Chancellor Olaf Scholz receives NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin.
- Ireland: St. Patrick’s Day.
- Poland: Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visits Tbilisi.
- Czechia: Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský will meet his Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis in Prague.
- Italy: Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio meets his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian.
- Romania: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez travels to Bucharest to meet his Romanian counterpart Nicolae Ciuca and President Klaus Iohannis. The president will also receive his Estonian counterpart, Alar Kalis, at the presidential palace in Cotroceni.
- Croatia: The city of Zagreb and the association CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-South-Eastern Europe are organizing a two-day conference on climate in cities.
- Serbia: Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer visits Serbia to meet President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Porfirije.
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]