The Washington Post – John Hudson and Loveday Morris / Blinken to meet Russian counterpart as White House warns Moscow could attack Ukraine ‘at any point’
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday in an effort to resolve the standoff over Ukraine, with U.S. officials warning that a Russian invasion could be imminent.
- The meeting will follow a week of intense diplomacy as the top U.S. diplomat heads to Ukraine and Germany for discussions on the crisis, the State Department said. Adding urgency to Blinken’s talks is Russia’s fresh deployment of troops to Belarus to conduct major military exercises that will further strengthen the number of Russian forces along Ukraine’s border.
- The troop movements, coupled with statements from Moscow that it was unsatisfied with meetings held with U.S., European and NATO officials last week to address its security concerns, have had some officials in Washington fearing the worst.
- In early December, U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia was planning a massive military invasion of Ukraine. Here’s why Moscow would do that.
- Foreign Policy – Amy Mackinnon, Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer / Russia planning provocation in Ukraine as pretext for war
The Guardian – Jennifer Rankin / EU Parliament elects anti-abortion Maltese MEP as president
- A conservative Maltese lawyer who opposes abortion has been elected president of the European parliament, the first woman in 20 years to lead the assembly.
- Roberta Metsola, who is celebrating her 43rd birthday on Tuesday, is the youngest-ever president of the European parliament, winning a comfortable majority to serve a two-and-a-half-year term.
- A former civil servant first elected in 2013, she is the first person from Malta, the smallest member state, to lead any EU institution.
- Metsola, a member of the centre-right European People’s party, had been serving as interim president after the untimely death of David Sassoli last week. Sassoli, a popular Italian Social Democrat, was due to end his term in this week’s midterm reshuffle of top jobs.
- Politico / The European Parliament’s mid-season report card
Euractiv – Nikolaus J. Kurmayer / Germany’s ‘hydrogen diplomacy‘ under fire in Ukraine
- Amidst rising military tensions between Ukraine and Russia, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s visit to Kyiv focused on the massive amounts of renewable hydrogen Germany aims to import in the future.
- Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in decarbonising Europe’s energy-hungry steel and chemical sectors. But huge amounts of renewable electricity will be needed in order to produce the necessary volumes of “green” hydrogen and Germany is looking at imports to supply its industry.
- “We, as the German federal government, will very soon open an office for hydrogen diplomacy in Kyiv,” said Baerbock on 17 January during her visit to the Ukrainian capital. The office will assist in getting “concrete projects on track as fast as possible,” she added.
- As Germany plans to exit both coal and gas in the 2030s, hydrogen is expected to play a crucial role both for industrial and electricity production purposes. Given Germany’s limited hydrogen production capacity, “the import of green hydrogen will play a central role,” reads Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck’s opening climate account
- Deutsche Welle – Sergio Matalucci / When will Ukraine benefit from its green hydrogen potential?
Financial Times – Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli and Amy Kazmin / Silvio Berlusconi makes long-shot bid for presidency of Italy
- Independent Italian lawmaker Laura Granato was stunned by the phone call she received this month. “Hello, this is Mr Bunga Bunga,” said the familiar voice on the other end. It was Silvio Berlusconi.
- Ahead of a crucial presidential election, the 85-year-old media tycoon and former Italian prime minister has attempted a political comeback with a bid to rally cross-party support around his barely disguised self-candidacy for the presidency.
- With the rightwing League and Brothers of Italy having expressed public support for their former coalition leader, Berlusconi is seeking to convince independents, centrists and rebel members of the populist Five Star Movement.
- Granato, who was previously affiliated with Five Star, revealed her conversation with Berlusconi during a radio interview, saying the two had talked about vaccines and the Italian justice system. Berlusconi could not be reached for comment.
- The Guardian – Angela Giuffrida / ‘A voice like Sinatra’: Berlusconi woos backers in bid for Italian presidency
Today’s longer reads: