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Biden Announces Ban on US Imports of Russian Oil

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In response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden ordered an embargo on US imports of Russian oil, gas, and energy on Tuesday, according to AFP. “The prohibition on Russian oil imports was determined after extensive discussions with friends,” he told AFP.

“We’re pushing forward with this ban with the awareness that many of our European allies and partners may not be able to join us,” said Trump.

“We’re executing the most comprehensive set of economic sanctions in history, and it’s wreaking havoc on Russia’s economy,” he continued. According to Bloomberg, citing sources, the UK government also declared on Tuesday that it aims to phase out all Russian oil imports as part of its latest sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s administration for the Ukraine conflict.

The move comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with US and Western authorities to halt imports, which had been a glaring omission in the huge sanctions imposed on Russia in the aftermath of the invasion. Despite other severe constraints on Russia’s banking industry, energy exports have maintained a continuous infusion of cash flowing.

According to Rystad Energy, the United States imports roughly one lakh barrels per day from Russia, accounting for only about 5% of Russia’s crude oil exports. According to the Associated Press, Russia supplied around 8% of US oil and petroleum product imports last year.

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Original Source: articleify.com

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Pennsylvania Primary: Trump-backed ‘Dr Oz’ in Cliffhanger Vote Count

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Image source, Reuters

A Trump-backed celebrity doctor’s campaign to run as the next Republican senator for Pennsylvania has come down to a nail-biting conclusion.

Mehmet Oz, a surgeon best known for his appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, is facing a cliffhanger vote count after the party primary.

He was neck and neck with former hedge fund executive David McCormick.

The race is being closely watched as a test of former President Donald Trump’s hold over the Republican party.

The contest in this key presidential swing state is one of a number taking place across the country to determine who will stand for office in the midterm elections in November.

The midterms fall halfway through a president’s term in office. They decide who controls the two chambers which make up Congress – the Senate and the House of Representatives.

At present, the Democratic Party controls both chambers, but by very slim majorities. And historically, the party that holds the White House has tended to suffer losses in the midterms.

The primaries decide which party’s candidates will run against each other in the midterms, and their election will play an important part in determining the rest of US President Joe Biden’s presidency.

Five states held primary elections on Tuesday, making it the busiest date on the 2022 midterms calendar so far. Here are some of the projected results:

Pennsylvania: Pro-Trump Republican state legislator Doug Mastriano won the race to become the Republicans’ nominated candidate for governor of the state. He has been a vocal supporter of Mr Trump’s baseless claim that he won the 2020 presidential electionNorth Carolina: Trump-backed US Congressman Madison Cawthorn lost a Republican nomination contest to defend his seat amid a number of controversies. In the last few months, the 26-year-old has been charged with carrying a weapon to an airport, claimed he had been invited to orgies by Republican colleagues, faced criticism for appearing in a leaked naked tape and called Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug”North Carolina: Congressman Ted Budd – endorsed by Mr Trump – defeated former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to become the Republicans’ nominee. He will face Democrat Cheri Beasley, the first black woman to serve as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The race is expected to be competitive Idaho: Republican governor Brad Little defeated a challenge by his own Lt Gov Janice McGeachin. The two have been locked in a power struggle as Trump-backed Ms McGeachin issued orders while Mr Little was out of state last year, including barring mask mandates.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump’s pick for the Ohio Senate primary cruised to victory against his opponents. But Pennsylvania’s primary has gone down to the wire.

Despite Mr Trump’s endorsement of Mehmet Oz, the race stayed in a three-way dead heat until polls closed.

The Republican contest was shaken up by a late surge from right-wing commentator Kathy Barnette.

But Mr McCormick came from behind, with the race narrow enough to be in recount territory.

Pennsylvania primary marks test of Trump’s strength

By Nomia Iqbal, BBC News

Dr Oz arrived at the venue and did a thumbs up to us and said he was feeling good. Taking to the stage he thanked everyone who supported him and made it clear he wasn’t conceding.

He said victory would be his in the end. But his closest rival Dave McCormick – who wasn’t backed by Mr Trump – said the same thing.

The results are still being counted but at the moment it’s within the margins for a recount. The full count of the actual ballots could take days.

It feels a lot like 2020 when we were here for the presidential race. In the end Pennsylvania projected for Biden taking him over the threshold.

Tonight was a critical test of the former President Trump’s ability to back winners… He wants to use the Primaries to prove his dominance over the Republican Party.

Mr Trump really got behind Dr Oz – whether his base did is yet to be decided.

The eventual Republican winner will take on Lt Gov John Fetterman, who easily won the Democratic Senate nomination on Tuesday night – two days after announcing he had suffered a stroke.

On Monday, the left-wing Democrat’s team said he had undergone surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator.

Mr Fetterman, a Harvard-educated former mayor who sported hoodie sweatshirts instead of suits on the campaign trail, remained in hospital on the night of his election victory, with his wife speaking at a campaign event in his place.

Image source, Twitter/@JohnFetterman

In a White House statement on Tuesday night, Mr Biden congratulated Mr Fetterman and argued that the Republican candidates were “too extreme”.

But a controversy that dogged Mr Fetterman in his primary campaign is certain to be raised by Republicans during the general election.

In 2013, during Mr Fetterman’s second term as mayor of Braddock, a town of around 2,000 outside Pittsburgh, he pursued an innocent black jogger who he wrongly thought had been firing a gun near his home.

Mr Fetterman, who is a hulking 6ft 8in and was armed with a shotgun during the confrontation, has refused to apologise for the incident.

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Original Article: bbc.co.uk

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Ukraine War: Snake Island and Battle for Control in Black Sea

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Image source, PLANET LABS PBC

Right from the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Snake Island was given a vital and almost mythical status in the war. This unremarkable, rocky outcrop in the Black Sea was seized by Russia and has become a battleground of strategic value.

Russia claims Ukraine has sustained disastrous losses in a failed bid to recapture the island, including special forces, warplanes, helicopters and drones. Ukraine insists it has limited its campaign to attacking facilities on the island and boats.

The battle is not over and Russia is repeatedly trying to reinforce its exposed garrison, says UK defence ministry intelligence.

Snake or Zmiinyi Island is a fraction of a square kilometre in size and there are no more snakes to speak of. But there can be no doubt of its importance for control of the western Black Sea.

“If Russian troops succeed in occupying Snake Island and set up their long-range air-defence systems, they will control the sea, land and air in the north-west part of the Black Sea and in the south of Ukraine,” Ukrainian military expert Oleh Zhdanov told the BBC.

Image source, UKRAINIAN GROUND FORCES

That is why Russia’s flagship Moskva sailed there within hours of the start of the war, telling Ukrainian soldiers on the island to give themselves up: “I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed,” said a Russian officer.

“Russian warship get lost,” came the now legendary response, although in far cruder language. The island was seized but weeks later the Moskva was sunk.

Losing the Moskva means Russia’s supply ships to the island now have minimal protection, says the UK, although, if it can consolidate its position, then it could dominate a large part of the Black Sea.

Threat to Ukraine, its neighbours and Nato

A reinforced Russian presence could be disastrous for Ukraine, strategically as well as economically.

Ukraine has already had to close its port at Odesa, suspending vital grain exports, but Mr Zhdanov fears the island could also be used as a second frontline.

“If the Russians succeed in installing long-range air defence systems then they will be able to defend their squadron, which can reach Ukraine’s coastline.”

It would also give Russian troops the chance to break into Transnistria, Moldova’s breakaway territory under Russian control that lies next-door to Ukraine and not far from Odesa.

However, Snake Island is a mere 45km (28 miles) away from the coast of Romania, which is part of the West’s Nato alliance.

UK naval analyst Jonathan Bentham believes a Russian S-400 air missile system on the island would be a “big game-changer”. If Russia were able to deploy a missile system, not only would Odesa come under threat, but Nato’s southern flank would be endangered, too, warns Romanian historian Dorin Dobrincu.

“This is very important for the Romanian government and people but also for the entire alliance. Russia would have the capacity to destroy cities and military capability in the east of our territory.”

Nato reinforced Romania’s borders from the start of the war, sending in Belgian and French forces.

But there are major economic risks, too, for Romania. Snake Island lies close to the mouth of the River Danube, which delineates Romania’s border with Ukraine. Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta is not far south and has been taking in container ships that are no longer able to sail to Odesa.

War in Ukraine: More coverage

Russian military-political analyst Alexander Mikhailov said troops on Snake Island could be in a position to control traffic into the north-western Black Sea and the Danube delta – the gateway to south-eastern Europe. “If there’s a military base or military infrastructure, it would be possible to block ships that enter the river as well as leave,” he told Russian media.

Romania’s Euro-Atlantic Resilience Centre believes Russia may decide to annex the island and control as many Black Sea shipping routes as possible towards the Bosphorus in Turkey.

Historically, Snake Island was Romanian territory until it was ceded in 1948 to the Soviet Union, which used it as a radar base. As Romania came under Soviet influence until 1989, Bucharest accepted the arrangement.

Ukraine took control with the fall of the communism and eventually in 2009 the International Court of Justice drew up the island’s territorial limits, giving Romania almost 80% of the Black Sea continental shelf near the island, and Ukraine the rest.

Snake Island is not just of strategic use, because this part of the Black Sea is rich in hydrocarbon resources – so The Hague ruling means both countries possess reserves of petroleum and gas.

It may seem to be a small clump of rock with little obvious value, but its fate is a major element of Russia’s war.

Image source, Ukraine Postal Service

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Original Source: bbc.co.uk

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Disabled Children ‘dumped’ in Ukrainian Institutions

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There are claims that thousands of disabled Ukrainian children have been forgotten and abandoned in institutions that can’t look after them.

The human rights organisation, Disability Rights International, has carried out an investigation and found children with severe disabilities tied to beds in overrun children’s homes unable to cope.

The BBC has been given exclusive access to an institution in western Ukraine, where disabled children from the east have been left by their carers who fled to neighbouring countries.

Reporting by Dan Johnson

Filmed by Jonathan Dunstan

Produced by Ruth Clegg and Natalie Higgins

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Original Post: bbc.co.uk

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