Politico – Hans von der Burchard et al. / Germany, France and Italy back EU candidate status for Ukraine
- The leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Romania on Thursday threw their weight behind accepting Ukraine and Moldova as EU membership candidates, laying to rest doubts over their stance amid Russia’s war against Ukraine.
- “All four of us support the status of immediate candidate for membership,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at a joint news conference in Kyiv, where the leaders had traveled to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He was speaking alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
- Scholz delivered a similar conclusion: “Germany is in favor of a positive decision in favor of Ukraine. This also applies to the Republic of Moldova,” the chancellor said. “Ukraine belongs to the European family,” he added.
- Scholz’s statement was particularly notable since the chancellor had been more reluctant to endorse a trajectory toward membership for Ukraine or Moldova in previous comments.
- Euractiv – Alexandra Brzozowski and Alice Taylor / Western Balkan hopefuls hope to ride on Ukraine’s train to membership
The Washington Post – Amy Gardner and Jacqueline Alemany / Trump aides told him that using Pence to overturn election was illegal
- President Donald Trump and his aides knew that it was not legal for his vice president, Mike Pence, to attempt to thwart Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021, but they nonetheless mounted an unrelenting pressure campaign that did not abate even after rioters stormed the Capitol and threatened Pence’s life, according to new evidence presented Thursday by the House committee investigating the attack.
- Leading the campaign was Trump lawyer John Eastman, who over the two days before Jan. 6 spoke repeatedly with top Pence aides about whether the vice president would either reject outright Biden’s winning electoral college count or suspend the day’s proceedings to allow seven contested states to reexamine their popular votes, witnesses said.
- Pence never considered it, former vice-presidential counsel Greg Jacob testified — and even Eastman acknowledged that the gambit was not legal, Jacob said. In addition to that apparent admission, several former White House aides testified that they — and Pence — told Trump the same.
- “I said, ‘John, if the vice president did what you were asking him to do, we would lose nine to nothing in the Supreme Court, wouldn’t we?’ ” Jacob recalled. “And after some further discussion, he acknowledged, ‘Well, yeah, you’re right, we would lose nine to nothing.’ ”
- The Guardian – David Smith / Pence the ‘hero’ who foiled Trump’s plot – could it lead to a 2024 run?
Financial Times – Sarah Neville, John Burn-Murdoch and Jamie Smith / Covid hospitalisations rise in Europe as sub-variants fuel new wave
- European countries are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 hospitalisations driven by sub-variants of the highly infectious Omicron strain, threatening a fresh global wave of the disease as immunity levels wane and pandemic restrictions are lifted.
- Admissions have risen in several countries including France and England, according to data analysed by the Financial Times. The BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron now accounts for more than 80 per cent of new infections in Portugal. And in Germany, where admissions have been rising for over a week, the share of Covid-19 infections ascribed to BA.5 doubled at the end of last month.
- Experts warn that the widespread scaling-back of testing and surveillance may be compromising the ability of countries to spot new mutations and react quickly. They fear this could lead to waves later in the year that will put pressure on health systems and potentially prove harder to contain.
- “We’re not out of the woods with this at all. The biggest concern is we’ve let our guard down quite considerably,” said Lawrence Young, a virologist at the UK’s University of Warwick. A key question concerns how the situation may develop in the northern hemisphere when it enters its winter months, he said, as health systems contend with seasonal respiratory viruses on top of the likely arrival of new variants.
- Reuters – Ludwig Burger / EU drugs watchdog in rolling review of Pfizer-BioNTech’s variant vaccine
Financial Times – Guy Chazan et al. / Germans told to conserve energy as Russia cuts gas flows to Europe
- The German government has appealed to the population to conserve energy after Russia cut supplies through a critical Baltic Sea pipeline bringing gas to Europe.
- Deputy chancellor Robert Habeck said the situation was “serious” and that companies and citizens should do what they could to save energy. “Every kilowatt hour helps in this situation,” he said in a video appeal published on Twitter.
- Russia’s state-controlled gas exporter Gazprom has cut flows through the Nord Stream pipeline by 60 per cent in recent days, citing technical problems. But Germany claims the move is political, amid escalating tensions between Moscow and the west over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Meanwhile, other countries also reported problems with Russian gas supplies. Italy, Slovakia and Austria said they had experienced a reduction in gas flows or had been warned by Gazprom that deliveries would be cut in the coming days.
- Bloomberg – Anna Shiryaevskaya / Europe risks running out of gas mid-winter if Nord Stream shuts
Our selection of longer reads for the weekend:
- Foreign Affairs – Dmytro Kuleba / How Ukraine will win
- Financial Times – Ivan Krastev / Putin’s aggressive autocracy reduces Russian soft power to ashes
- Atlantic Council – Yurii Shchyol / Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine invasion is the world’s first full-scale cyberwar
- Financial Times – Leslie Hook and Chris Campbell / Climate graph of the week: war and climate put 49 million at risk of famine