Euractiv – Georgi Gotev / Charles Michel visits Moldova, promises military support
- The European Union is considering additional military support to Moldova, to cope with the spillover from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, European Council President Charles Michel said on a visit to Chisinau on Wednesday (4 May).
- The 27-nation bloc is looking into how it can provide more military support to Moldova – one of the poorest countries in Europe, squeezed between Romania and Ukraine – including more help in building up the country’s forces, Michel told a joint news conference with Moldovan President Maia Sandu.
- Moldova is seen as a possible next victim of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Just like Ukraine, Moldova is a former Soviet republic with ambitions to join the EU. Vladimir Putin’s Russia, however, has plans to restore as much as possible from the former Soviet Union.
- The Moldovan authorities are sensitive to signs of growing tensions in Transnistria, an unrecognised Moscow-backed sliver of land bordering southwestern Ukraine. Transnistria is officially Moldovan territory but has been controlled by pro-Russian forces since 1990.
- Financial Times – Paula Erizanu / Moldova diary: will the war come here?
Politico – Hannah Brenton / Russia’s Sberbank will finally be cut off from SWIFT, says von der Leyen
- The EU wants to cut off Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payments system, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Wednesday.
- In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the head of the Commission said the EU would “finally de-SWIFT Sberbank” in its latest package of sanctions against Russia.
- The EU will also take the same step against two other Russian banks, von der Leyen said, without naming them. POLITICO reported on Tuesday they are Credit Bank of Moscow and the Russian Agricultural Bank.
- “We hit banks that are systemically critical to the Russian financial system and Putin’s ability to wage destruction,” said the Commission president. “This will solidify the complete isolation of the Russian financial sector from the global system.”
- Project Syndicate – Howard Davies / Will Western sanctions change the global financial system?
The Guardian – Daniel Boffey / Hungary objects to proposed EU ban on Russian oil imports
- The European Commission president has faced immediate resistance from Hungary after proposing a ban on Russian oil imports to the EU, aimed at ensuring Vladimir Putin paid “a high price for his brutal aggression” in Ukraine.
- Ursula von der Leyen said Russian crude oil should be prohibited within six months and refined products by the end of the year to help cripple Putin’s war efforts.
- Member states in Brussels are scrutinising a proposed sixth package of sanctions but in a speech on Wednesday Von Der Leyen said Russian oil flows had to stop, despite the misgivings in some capitals.
- “Let us be clear: it will not be easy,” Von der Leyen told the European parliament. “Some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it. We now propose a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.
- Bloomberg – Julian Lee / Europe confronts difficult path in making a Russian oil ban work
Financial Times – Leila Abboud / Leftists form anti-Macron alliance for French parliamentary election
- France’s leftwing parties have agreed to team up in June’s parliamentary elections, setting aside major differences on Europe, foreign policy and government spending in an attempt to counter newly re-elected president Emmanuel Macron.
- After more than a week of difficult talks, the far-left La France Insoumise party (LFI, or France Unbowed) has formed a coalition with the green Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EELV) and Communist parties, which will lead to them fielding one list of candidates for the National Assembly’s 577 constituencies.
- The once-dominant Socialist party (PS), which is fighting for survival after bruising election losses, has also agreed in principle to join, but its governing bodies still need to approve the alliance that has been contested by heavyweights such as former president François Hollande who portray it as a betrayal of its principles.
- “We want to elect MPs in a majority of constituencies to prevent Emmanuel Macron from moving ahead with his unjust and brutal policies and to beat the far-right,” the PS and LFI said in a statement on Wednesday.
- Politico – John Lichfield / Can far-left champion Mélenchon become Macron’s prime minister?
Today’s longer reads:
- Foreign Affairs – Ian Bremmer / The new cold war could soon heat up
- Financial Times – Richard Milne and Henry Foy / Finland and Sweden face security dilemma ahead of Nato decisions