Ukraine daily briefing, March 29: Zelensky skeptical over ceasefire, Concert for Ukrain raises £12M, Inflation spike over Ukraine crisis

The UK is being ‘urgently’ told to fix relations with the EU in order to strengthen its security amid the Ukraine crisis.

Analysis suggests that the country’s record has been “mixed” when it comes to building resilience to global challenges that could lead to “damaging accusations of hypocrisy”.

Director of Chatham House Think Tank has expressed that if the UK wants to demonstrate its credibility on the world stage, it will need to strengthen its commitments to global resilience.

Read more: Blackburn man killed by carbon monoxide poisoning after chip pan fire in flat with disconnected smoke alarm

News of the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has come to light that the Chelsea FC owner has been suspected to be poisoned, thought to be a warning sign to no join the ranks of those who dissent.

Ukraine ceasefire talks take place as fighting appears at stalemate

Another round of talks aimed at agreeing to a ceasefire in Ukraine are to set take place in Turkey.

The discussions between Ukrainian and Russian delegations come as the fighting appeared to be at a stalemate, with the two sides trading control of a town in the east and a suburb of the capital.

Ukrainian forces retook Irpin, north west of Kyiv, from Russian troops, who were regrouping to take the area back, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday as he sought to rally the country.

“We still have to fight, we have to endure,” Mr Zelensky said in his night-time video address to the nation. “We can’t express our emotions now. We can’t raise expectations, simply so that we don’t burn out.”

Ahead of the talks in Istanbul, the Ukrainian president said his country is prepared to declare its neutrality, as Moscow has demanded, in comments that might lend momentum to negotiations.

Mr Zelensky said over the weekend that compromise might be possible over “the complex issue of Donbas”, the hotly contested region in the country’s east.

It is unclear how that might be reconciled with his stance that “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt”.

Russia has long demanded that Ukraine drop any hope of joining Nato, which Moscow sees as a threat.

Mr Zelensky, for his part, has stressed that Ukraine needs security guarantees of its own as part of any deal.

‘Very concerning’ claims Roman Abramovich suspected poisoning



Roman Abramovich, who suffered suspected poisoning during attempts to aid peace talks in Ukraine (PA)

Claims that Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich suffered suspected poisoning during attempts to aid peace talks in Ukraine are “very concerning”, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has said.

The suspected poisoning of the billionaire was not intended to kill him and the two Ukrainian representatives, the lead Russia investigator with investigative news outlet Bellingcat has said.

Christo Grozev told Times Radio the “most plausible” explanation for the alleged poisoning was that it was a warning to Mr Abramovich.

“The dosage was not high enough to kill any of the three, the most likely target would have been Abramovich. And it kind of makes sense. I mean, he volunteered to play… this role of (an) honest broker, but other oligarchs had… declared certain independence from the Kremlin position and criticise(d) the war,” the journalist said.

“So it could well be seen as a warning sign to them to not join the ranks of those who dissent, and to not be too much of an honest broker.”

Sources told the PA news agency Mr Abramovich had now recovered and was continuing to try to help with the negotiations. It is understood the oligarch had been involved in talks about securing humanitarian corridors to allow Ukrainians to leave as well as bringing other countries to the negotiating table.

The WSJ reported it was believed the suspected attack was orchestrated by hardliners in Russia who wanted to sabotage the talks.

UK urged to repair EU relations to bolster security



Prime Minister Boris Johnson (House of Commons/PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (House of Commons/PA Wire)

The UK should “urgently” repair its relationship with the EU to help guarantee Europe’s security in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, new analysis suggests.

The Chatham House think tank found the UK has made clear contributions to its objectives of supporting liberal values ​​and security on the world stage. However Britain’s record has been “mixed” when it comes to building resilience to global challenges, it said, with “inconsistent policy action” on certain issues leading to “damaging accusations of hypocrisy”.

The conflict in Ukraine has “served as a timely reminder that the UK’s global ambitions depend as much on having a secure base at home as on its positioning abroad”, it added, calling on the Government to “urgently repair its relationship with the EU to help guarantee European security going forward”.

Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, said: “As a newly minted solo power that is still reintroducing itself on the world stage, justifiable accusations of double standards and evidence of hypocrisy will be deeply damaging.

“There will be no more precious asset in the future for Britain’s influence in the world than a reputation for consistency.”

He added: “If the UK wants to meet its priorities, and demonstrate its credibility on the world stage, it will need to strengthen its commitments to global resilience – above all to invest in the green transition, tackle the many challenges to global public health , and support equitable development, free of the scurge of global corruption.

“This will allow the UK to continue acting as a broker on its new global journey.”

Gas supplies from Norway outstrip those from the North Sea as investment plea is launched



General view of a gas hob burning on a stove in a kitchen
General view of a gas hob burning on a stove in a kitchen

Ross Dornan of industry body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said this marked the first time that supplies from a single other country had been larger than domestic supply.

And with the Russian invasion of Ukraine resulting in countries looking to end their use of oil and gas from Russia, Mr Dornan warned: “If we want to be more relying on imports we’re going to have to pay the price of that.”

His comments came as a new report from OEUK found that by 2030 about 80% of UK gas supplies and more than 70% of oil supplies will have to come from other countries if there is no new investment in the North Sea. Within the UK “production of oil and gas will fall by up to 15% a year unless there is rapid investment in new infrastructure,” the report found.

It added: “This decline is much faster than the predicted reduction in UK energy demand, so, if there is no such investment then, by 2030, we will be relying on other countries for around 80% of our gas and 70% of our oil.”

Mr Dornan, OEUK’s market intelligence manager, said: “The energy gap between what we produce ourselves and that which comes from other nations will keep growing unless we invest in exploration and production on the UK’s continental shelf.

“If there is production issues in Norway, if there is pipeline issues in Norway, that could really start to impact on our gas supplies in the UK.

“We are in a fortunate position where we have good diversity of supply … but in the context of countries moving away from Russian supply, which is 40% of the Continent’s gas sources, those international sources are going to be more competitive than they have been .

“And if we want to be more relying on imports we’re going to have to pay the price of that.”

Tory Lord says political donations coverage shows the system is working not broken

Existing rules and transparency provided by the elections watchdog allowed for the scrutiny of cash given to parties, according to deputy leader in the Lords, Earl Howe who also denied that a move to scrap a 15-year limit on British citizens living overseas being able to vote from abroad would “open the floodgates” to foreign political donations.

However, critics’ concerns have been rejected by ministers, who insist only those with “a legitimate interest” in UK elections can make donations. Lord Howe told the upper chamber there was already “a stringent regime of controls on political donations”.

He said: “This measure will not open the floodgates to foreign political donations. Registered overseas electors are eligible to make political donations. As important participants in our democracy it is only right they should be able to donate in the same way as other UK citizens registered on the electoral roll.”

Lord Howe said: “I am aware that stories about political donations are never far from the newspapers, but rather than being indicative of a broken system, I firmly believe this is the sign of a system working.

“The checks parties and other campaigners are required to carry out and the reports published by the Electoral Commission allow the press and the public to scrutinize political donations.”

But Labor frontbencher Baroness Hayman of Ullock said: “I think we can say that we disagree as to whether or not excessive foreign donations being allowed to come into our politics is a good thing and whether or not there should be a cap on that if the Government feels that stopping overseas donations is not an option.”

She added: “I think it’s really disappointing the minister does not accept the very great concerns raised about how donations can buy political influence. We have to be very, very careful in our country that we don’t tip into the way perhaps other countries have operated.

“I just wish that the Government would accept that there is a problem and it needs to be nipped in the bud. This is an opportunity to legislate for that.”

Lancashire brothers with Ukrainian grandad run half marathon between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley stadiums



Aleks, 11, pictured on the right and Isaac, 7, pictured on the left are running 13 miles for Unicef ​​UK because they want to help children in Ukraine, they both are holding the Ukraine flag
Aleks, 11, and Isaac, 7, are running 13 miles for Unicef ​​UK because they want to help children in Ukraine

Brothers Aleks, 11, and Isaac, 7, are set to run the half marathon on Tuesday, April 12 between their two local football clubs. Proud mum, Daria Neklesa, said the pair had become keen to do something to help due to the personal connection the conflict had with their family heritage.

With the boys’ maternal grandfather moving to the UK from Ukraine following the Second World War, Daria says it was “a difficult time made better” due to the kindness shown by the British people to her father. Since their fundraiser went live on Sunday (March 27), the boys have already raised more than £200 for Unicef ​​UK.

Daria told LancsLive: “My father came to England after the Second World War. He had been taken by the Nazis from his home to a labor camp in Germany.

“Following the war, they came to England and it was obviously a very turbulent time for them. Hearing about the recent invasion, it really impacted on our family in a very strange way because its an event that happened a long time ago but in terms of our family it feels very recent.

“We feel a very personal connection with what’s happening in Ukraine. Even though I was born and bred in this country, there’s still that link through heritage that we all obviously still have.”

Daria said the two brothers felt very ‘upset’ after learning of the conflict in Ukraine and became ‘keen’ to do something before coming up with the idea to do a half-marathon. Isaac, seven, told Daria that he had an idea to do the run and they then decided to ‘harness the power of football’ too.

Since then, they have been in touch with both Blackburn Rovers and Burnley FC and will be doing the run from Blackburn to Burnley on April 12. On their page, the boys had raised £225 of their £250 target by mid-afternoon on Monday .

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