VIF News Digest: International Developments (US, Europe and Russia), 1-15 May 2020
Domestic – Political
'Obamagate': Donald Trump calls for Barack Obama to testify and wants officials to be 'jailed for 50 years', 14 May 2020

Donald Trump has called for Barack Obama to be hauled before Congress, and for his predecessor's officials to be "jailed for 50 years".
The US president has defined as "Obamagate" an episode involving the "unmasking" of his first national security adviser Michael Flynn after his name appeared in redacted form in intelligence reports related to Russia.

He claims that, during the presidential transition period at the end of 2016, the Obama administration abused its power for political reasons in targeting Mr Flynn.

Mr Trump appeared set to make it an issue in the upcoming election campaign. Click here to read....

Ex-Trump adviser Michael Flynn charges of lying to FBI dropped, 07 May 2020

The US Department of Justice is moving to drop the criminal charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn was among the former aides to President Donald Trump convicted during the special counsel's investigation into Russian election interference.
He had pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia's ambassador to the US.

Flynn had been seeking to withdraw his guilty plea.

The justice department's decision also follows criticism of the case by President Trump and his supporters.

Flynn, a retired Army three-star lieutenant general, left the White House in February 2017, just weeks after Mr Trump was sworn in. Click here to read....

Joe Biden reverses view about releasing Senate records, 03 May 2020

So much for sunlight.

Democrats, who spent the past four years challenging, suing and eventually impeaching President Trump over his refusal to release documents, are about to march into the 2020 presidential campaign with a candidate who said Friday that he is OK with shielding his own records.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden said he will not heed calls to have the University of Delaware release his Senate papers, which he donated years ago.

He said the speeches, position papers and documents from conversations with world leaders, amassed over a quarter century on Capitol Hill, could dent his chances of winning the White House, and he doesn’t want them public.

“They could be really taken out of context,” Mr. Biden told MSNBC on Friday. Click here to read....

Trump campaign launching $10 million effort attacking Joe Biden, 07 May 2020

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is launching a $10 million effort to attack presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Multiple campaign officials tell CNN the effort will feature a mix of digital, online and television ads all taking direct aim at Biden as Republicans attempt to shift the focus away from a referendum on the President to a choice election between the two candidates.

The President personally approved the strategy and the ads set to air, his campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale offered a preview of the type of attacks the campaign plans to unleash in a tweet Thursday afternoon. He posted a one-minute ad that will be among several used in the blitz. It seeks to tie Biden to China amid the global coronavirus crisis which has killed tens of thousands and paralyzed the global economy, specifically accusing Biden of having "protected China's feelings." Click here to read....

Trump threatens new taxes on companies that make goods outside United States, 14 May 2020

President Donald Trump threatened on Thursday to impose new taxes on American companies that produce goods outside the United States, another move his administration could make to push supply chains away from China and raise new trade barriers.

Trump said in a Fox Business Network interview that taxation was an “incentive” for companies to return manufacturing to the United States. He did not specify whether these would be new across-the-board tariffs or another form of taxes, which would require an act of Congress.

“You know, if we wanted to put up our own border, like other countries do to us, Apple would build 100 percent of their product in the United States. That’s the way it would work,” Trump said. Click here to read....

As Americans reel from grief and economic pain, empathy is missing in Trump's response, 09 May 2020

A fresh round of staggering economic numbers came Friday that underscored the deep economic pain that workers are feeling around the country, but President Donald Trump's mind was on a familiar list of grievances: his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the perpetrators of the Russia "hoax," the "dirty politicians" and "dirty cops" who wronged him.

Trump's difficulty with empathy has been well-chronicled throughout his presidency. But it has been on display in a sometimes breathtaking fashion in the midst of the pandemic, notably so on Friday as the President was forced to address the worst jobs report in history, with a US death toll that surpassed 77,000 by end of the day. That missing trait in Trump's arsenal is even more notable now that the President is facing an adversary in Joe Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee who counts empathy and his ability to connect with struggling Americans among his greatest strengths. Click here to read....

Coronavirus Challenge
What Barack Obama Said About Trump's Handling Of COVID-19 In Leaked Call , 10 May 2020

Former President Barack Obama has launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it an "absolute chaotic disaster."

In a leaked web call Friday night with former members of his administration, Obama also said the Justice Department's decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia probe, endangers the rule of law in the US.
In the audio, first obtained by Yahoo News, Obama urges former staffers to join him in rallying behind Joe Biden as he prepares to take on Trump in the November presidential election. Click here to read....

Trump says coronavirus tests are ‘overrated,’ but he will get tested daily, 07 May 2020

President Donald Trump said Thursday that testing for the coronavirus is “somewhat overrated” shortly after announcing that he will be tested for the disease every single day.

Daily tests will also be conducted for “everyone that comes into contact with the president,” Vice President Mike Pence added to reporters at the White House.

The new daily testing policy for the president and those in his circle comes hours after the White House acknowledged that a personal valet for Trump tested positive for Covid-19.

Trump and Pence have since been retested after coming into contact with the valet, who among things serves the president’s meals.
Both Trump and Pence tested negative for the coronavirus, the White House said.

“I’ve had very little personal contact with this gentleman,” Trump said in the Oval Office alongside Pence. “I know who he is, good person, but I’ve had very little contact.” Click here to read....

Trump says coronavirus worse 'attack' than Pearl Harbour, 07 May 2020

US President Donald Trump has described the coronavirus pandemic as the "worst attack" ever on the United States, pointing the finger at China.
Mr Trump said the outbreak had hit the US harder than the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War Two, or the 9/11 attacks two decades ago.
His administration is weighing punitive actions against China over its early handling of the global emergency.

Beijing says the US wants to distract from its own response to the pandemic.

Since emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the coronavirus is confirmed to have infected 1.2 million Americans, killing more than 73,000. Click here to read....

Coronavirus deals U.S. economy Great Depression-like job losses, high unemployment, 08 May 2020

The U.S. economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression, laying bare both the economic and human tragedy wrought by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Labour Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed the unemployment rate surging to 14.7% last month, shattering the post-World War Two record of 10.8% touched in November 1982. It underscored the depth of the recession caused by lockdowns imposed by states and local governments in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus. Click here to read....

Michigan, California move to reopen factories as U.S. jobless ranks grow, 07 May 2020

Michigan and California, two U.S. manufacturing powerhouses, acted on Thursday to allow factories to reopen from coronavirus lockdowns over the next few days, as millions more Americans joined the ranks of workers left jobless by the pandemic.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan gave the go-ahead to manufacturers in her state to restart on May 11, removing a major obstacle to North American automakers seeking to bring thousands of idled employees back to work this month.

The U.S. auto sector accounts for 6% of U.S. economic output, with more than 835,000 Americans employed in vehicle manufacturing.
Whitmer, however, extended her stay-at-home order for two more weeks to avoid a new wave of coronavirus infections in an industrial Midwestern state hard hit by the virus and by business closures. Click here to read....

Global report: deaths are price of reopening, says Trump, as China warns risks remain , 07 May 2020

Donald Trumphas again suggested the US may need to accept the reality of more deaths in order to start reopening the economy, as governments around the world continued to ease out of lockdown restrictions.

After backtracking on earlier indications that he would wind up the White House coronavirus taskforce, the Trump spelled out a potentially brutal approach to kickstarting the world’s biggest economy. “We have to be warriors,” Trump told Fox News when asked if Americans should expect additional deaths as the country looks to reopen. “We can’t keep our country closed down for years.”

The president added: “Hopefully that won’t be the case … but it could very well be the case.” Click here to read....

US- China Tensions
US could cut ties with China over coronavirus, ‘save $500 billion’: Trump, 14 May 2020

US President Donald Trump has said he might cut ties with China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, indicating further deterioration of his relationship with the world's second-largest economy.

Trump has long accused China of concealing the true scale of the outbreak, which first appeared in China's Hubei province in December 2019. The novel coronavirus has killed over 300,000 people worldwide.

In an interview with Fox Business broadcast on Thursday, Trump was asked about how the US might respond to China. "There are many things we could do. We could do things. We could cut off the whole relationship,” he said.

"Now, if you did, what would happen? You'd save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship,” Trump said when interviewed on Wednesday, referring to the annual US imports from China which he refers to as lost money. Click here to read....

All major economies will be drawn into US-China contestations over international trade, 12 May 2020

Significant political contestations within the US and between the US and China to reform, reorient or bypass the WTO system are at hand. All major economies will be drawn into this conflict.

Abolish the World Trade Organisation is the kind of demand you would expect to hear from diehard opponents of free trade on the left and right extremes of the Indian political spectrum. But it has come in a forceful article published last week in The New York Times by a US senator, Josh Hawley, from Missouri.

In his essay, Hawley says the emergency triggered by the corona pandemic is not a mere health crisis. With millions of Americans unemployed, “it is also an economic crisis. And it has exposed a hard truth about the modern global economy: it weakens American workers and has empowered China’s rise.” Click here to read....

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says aggressive behaviour by China in South China Sea, 06 May 2020

The Chinese Army is indulging in aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea and the Chinese Communist Party has ramped up its disinformation campaign to try to shift the blame on coronavirus and burnish its image, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday.

“While the Chinese Communist Party ramps up its disinformation campaign to try to shift blame and burnish its image, we continue to see aggressive behaviour by the PLA in the South China Sea, from threatening a Philippine Navy ship to sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat and intimidating other nations from engaging in offshore oil and gas development,” Esper told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

Last week, two US Navy ships conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to send a clear message to Beijing that America will continue to protect the freedom of navigation and commerce for all nations large and small, he said. Click here to read....

Inflection point: China threatens to seize upper hand in global influence fight, 03 May 2020

China’s leaders are eager to exploit the coronavirus-induced global economic crisis to expand Beijing’s already ambitious Belt and Road investment campaign through a flood of loans to the growing number of nations in need around the world.

But the hundreds of billions of dollars in grants, loans and contracts already committed under President Xi Jinping’s signature program has some analysts warning that China is likely to overextend itself as markets and supply chains struggle to recover from unprecedented fallout over the coming years.
Beijing may already be feeling a backlash from countries struggling to pay their current debts and increasingly concerned that the Belt and Road Initiative is intended to underwrite the Chinese Communist Party’s model for global economic development in the coming decades. Click here to read....

Trump says US-China trade deal 'doesn't feel the same to me', 14 May 2020

United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was very disappointed in China over its failure to contain the novel coronavirus, saying the worldwide pandemic cast a pall over his trade deal with Beijing.

The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China in December and was spreading silently as the US and China signed a phase one trade deal hailed by the Republican president as a major achievement. Click here to read....

Pompeo says TSMC's $12 billion investment to increase U.S. economic independence from China, 15 May 2020

Chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (2330.TW) $12 billion investment in the United States will increase U.S. economic independence from China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement early on Friday.

TSMC, a major supplier to Apple Inc (AAPL.O), announced on Friday it will build a $12 billion chip factory in Arizona, in what the company called a “strong partnership” with the U.S. government. Pompeo said the investment will strengthen U.S.-Taiwan ties.

“TSMC’s announcement comes at a critical juncture, when China is competing to dominate cutting-edge technology and control critical industries. The TSMC facility in Arizona will increase U.S. economic independence”, Pompeo said on Friday. Click here to read....

South Asia
New US diplomat for South Asia designated , 05 May 2020

Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas L. Vajda will look after South Asian affairs at the US State Department when current chief diplomat for the region, Alice G. Wells, retires on May 22, the department confirmed on Monday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the change in a tweet on Sunday afternoon, saying: “I will miss Alice’s wise counsel and dedicated efforts to build relationships and address challenges across South and Central Asia.”

“I personally came to admire Ambassador Wells’ dedication to our team’s mission and her dogged pursuit of American excellence. We commend her service and wish her the best,” he wrote.

In a message to Dawn, the State Department confirmed that Ms Wells would retire on May 22 and Mr Vajda “will serve as the South and Central Asian Bureau’s senior bureau official on an interim basis.”

“In her current role, Ambassador Wells has been instrumental in strengthening diplomatic and economic relationships across the region and navigating challenging international crises,” the department added. Click here to read....

H-1B spouses get relief as Trump administration takes U-turn on H-4 visas, 08 May 2020

In a surprise move, the Donald Trump administration made a u-turn in its plan to review and possibly revoke H-4 employment authorisation document (EAD), which allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally work in the country.

According to a report in the Economic Times, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has appealed to a US district court not to do away with the earlier Obama-era law that allowed spouses of H-1B visa holders to be employed locally. DHS argued that this will not take away jobs from US nationals.
This comes as a big relief for one lakh Indian families living in the US as Indian nationals account for over two-thirds of H-1B visa holders in the United States.

The US District Court of Columbia is yet to rule on the matter. If the court rules in favour of the US government, then these families stand to benefit. Click here to read....

Pompeo urges Kabul and Taliban co-operation after 'appalling' attack, 13 May 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday urged the Afghan government and Taliban to co-operate after deadly attacks on a maternity hospital and a funeral hurt prospects of ending the war.

Mr Pompeo called the twin assaults appalling but said the Taliban, who signed a February 29 accord with the US in his presence in Qatar, denied carrying them out.

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the two horrific terrorist attacks in Afghanistan today,” he said.

“During the holy month of Ramadan and amid the threat of Covid-19, these dual attacks are particularly appalling.

"We note the Taliban have denied any responsibility and condemned both attacks as heinous.”

Mr Pompeo urged the Taliban and the Afghan government to co-operate to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"As long as there is no sustained reduction in violence and insufficient progress towards a negotiated political settlement, Afghanistan will remain vulnerable to terrorism." Click here to read....

US’s Khalilzad Meets with Indian Officials on Afghan Peace , 07 May 2020

The US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Thursday afternoon met with Indian officials and discussed the US peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Khalilzad was accompanied by the senior director in the US National Security Council, Lisa Curtis, and the US ambassador to India, Mr. Ken Juster.
Khalilzad provided an update on the US peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, saying: “The US side recognized India's constructive contribution in economic development, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” the statement read.

“They laid importance to India's crucial and continuing role in sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan,” it said.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India's minister of external affairs and NSA reiterated India's continued support for strengthening peace, security, unity, democratic and inclusive polity and protection of rights of all sections of the Afghan society, including Afghan Hindus and Sikhs.

“India is deeply concerned at the upsurge in violence and supports call for immediate ceasefire and need to assist the people of Afghanistan in dealing with coronavirus pandemic. India remains engaged in extending humanitarian food and medical supplies to Afghanistan to deal with the situation created by coronavirus,” said the statement. Click here to read....

East Asia
Trump Still Demands Massive Hike for USFK Upkeep, 08 May 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly demanding US$1.3 billion a year to maintain American troops in Korea. That is a whopping 53.3 percent higher than the W1.4 trillion Korea had to pay last year.

A senior U.S. official told the Chosun Ilbo on Thursday, "The U.S. faces many difficulties, including the coronavirus epidemic and a $1.3-billion offer is realistically not bad. This was approved by President Trump."

Trump originally wanted $5 billion a year.

A high-ranking government official here said, "We have been considering annual increases in defence spending to raise the amount to $1.3 billion over the next five years, but I believe the U.S. wants that right now."

Another U.S. government source said if Korea pays less, the number of troops here "could decline," and claimed Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley has told his Korean counterpart Park Han-ki so. But Park denied this on Wednesday.

The pressure from Trump seems to be intended to divert from his catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus epidemic as his re-election chances dwindle. Click here to read....

West Asia
US to remove Patriots, other military assets from Saudi Arabia, 08 May 2020

The United States is reportedly removing Patriot anti-missile systems, along with other military assets, from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it winds down a military build-up that began when tensions with Iran flared up last year.

The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous US officials, reported on Thursday that four batteries of Patriot surface-to-air missiles, meant to protect ground assets from missile and aircraft attacks, will be removed from Saudi oil facilities. Dozens of military personnel deployed along with the batteries will also be reassigned, officials told the WSJ. Click here to read....

Politics and Society
EU-Western Balkans Zagreb summit, 6 May 2020

The EU-Western Balkans summit took place on 6 May 2020 via video conference. The EU leaders adopted the Zagreb declaration, with which the Western Balkans partners have aligned themselves. EU leaders confirmed their “unequivocal support for the European perspective” to their Western Balkans counterparts. However, the final declaration doesn’t make reference to a tangible time frame for the region’s accession to the bloc. Click here to read....

Germany hands over to Russia archive data on Soviet POWs at TASS office, 6 May 2020

German embassy in Moscow have handed over to Russia the first batch of digitised archives containing information about Soviet prisoners of war who had been kept at Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Under a joint inter-governmental project Germany is opening to Russian specialists’ information about Soviet prisoners of war and forced laborers, which is kept at the federal archive in Koblenz. Click here to read....

What does Europe mean to me and why is solidarity more valid than ever? - Ursula Von der Leyen, 9 May 2020

Alongside 27 European leaders and the Presidents or European Parliament and Council, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen explained what Europe meant to her. She said: “For my generation Europe is freedom and rule of law” and “for my children Europe is the future and the open-mindedness, this is what I'm fighting for”. Click here to read....

Europe must emerge stronger from this crisis: Joint op-ed by President Sassoli, President Michel and President von der Leyen, 9 May 2020

The leaders of the three main European institutions have jointly called for unity among Europeans on the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration - the foundation of today’s EU. In a joint op-ed European Parliament President David Sassoli, Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised on the value of solidarity and joint action in the midst of challenges posed by COVID-19. Click here to read....

Brexit talks back on between EU and UK ahead of June summit, 11 May 2020

London and Brussels resumed post-Brexit talks on 11 May, with both sides far apart on key issues but under pressure to make progress ahead of an EU-UK summit next month. Negotiations have been slowed amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Boris Johnson's government has been clear on its refusal to seek an extension to the transition period which runs out at the end of the year. A decision on this would have to be taken by June 30. The UK is hoping to up the pace towards a free trade agreement, as well as striking deals on various matters including air transport, energy and law enforcement. The EU insists that all key areas are treated in parallel. Click here to read....

EU should back Taiwan’s WHO observer status to share COVID-19 experience – open letter, 13 May 2020

More than 100 members of the European Parliament and member states’ national assemblies have called upon EU health ministers to lobby for Taiwan’s participation in next week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva to share its experience in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an open letter quoted by EURACTIV. a href=" coronavirus/news/eu-should-back-taiwans-who-observer-status-to-share-covid-19-experience-open-letter/" target="_blank">Click here to read....

Hungary’s emergency measures: MEPs ask EU to impose sanctions and stop payments, 14 May 2020

In a debate with EC Vice-President Vera Jourová and the Croatian Presidency of the EU, a majority of speakers underlined that the emergency measures taken by the Hungarian Government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including the declaration of an unlimited state of emergency, are not in line with EU rules and warned of the increasing risk to democracy. Several MEPs called on the EC to finish scrutinising the legal changes and open infringement procedures. They specifically asked for payments to Hungary to be stopped, in the framework of the new financial perspectives and the recovery plan, unless rule of law is respected. Click here to read....

Italy to allow unrestricted travel starting June 3, 15 May 2020

Italy will allow travel to and from abroad starting on June 3, the government has announced. According to the decree approved by Italy's Cabinet, restrictions would also be lifted on travel within Italy on May 18. The statement stressed, however, that local and state governments could curb travel in certain areas if there is a spike in new infections. Click here to read....

Slovenia becomes the first European country to declare an end to its coronavirus epidemic, relaxes some border controls, 15 May 2020

The Slovenian government has declared an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, becoming the first European country to do so, after authorities confirmed less than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks.The country has so far reported 1,464 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths. “Slovenia has tamed the epidemic over the past two Slovenia has the best epidemiologic picture in Europe,” Prime Minister Janez Jansa noted before the Parliament. Click here to read....

Germany denies Nord Stream 2 pipeline waiver of EU rules, 15 May 2020

Germany’s energy regulator declined to grant a waiver of EU gas directives to the operators of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, dealing a fresh blow to the project to carry gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.Nord Stream 2, designed by Russia’s Gazprom to increase direct shipments to Europe, is far behind schedule and has faced political opposition from Washington, as well as from Ukraine and Poland through whose territory Russian gas is shipped to consumers in western Europe. Click here to read....

Spring 2020 Economic Forecast: A deep and uneven recession, an uncertain recovery, 6 May 2020

The Commission presented the Spring 2020 Economic Forecast on 6 May. According to the forecast, the EU economy is expected to contract by 7.5 percent in 2020 and grow by around 6 percent in 2021. The Commission underlined that the shock to the EU economy is symmetric since the pandemic has hit all Member States but both the drop in output in 2020 and the strength of the rebound in 2021 are set to differ markedly between them. Click here to read....

Tourism and transport: Commission's guidance on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe's tourism in 2020 and beyond, 13 May 2020

The tourism ecosystem has been one of the most affected by the heavy restrictions on movement and travel imposed in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak. The EC has rolled out a package which aims to help the EU tourism sector recover from the pandemic, by supporting businesses and ensuring that Europe continues to be the number one destination for visitors commission/ presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_854" target="_blank">Click here to read....

Von der Leyen outlines ambitious recovery plan for Europe, 13 May 2020

Speaking before the European Parliament, Ursula Von der leyen presented a recovery plan for Europe. The plan consists of two parts, the European budget and a recovery instrument funded through a larger headroom. She elaborated that the recovery funds would be spent across three pillars, the first one focusing on supporting the Member States to recover and come out stronger from the crisis. New Recovery and resilience tool will fund key public investments and reforms aligned with the European priorities that is the twin transition. The second pillar would focus on kick-starting the economy and helping private investment move again. The third pillar would be to draw necessary lessons from the crisis. With this backdrop, she announced strengthening of programmes that had proven valuable during the crisis, such as RescEU or Horizon Europe, as well as creating a new dedicated Health Programme. Click here to read....

GDP and employment flash estimates for the first quarter of 2020 by Eurostat, 15 May 2020

Seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 3.8 percent in the euro area and by 3.3 percent in the EU during the first quarter of 2020, compared with the previous quarter, according to a flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. These were the sharpest declines observed since time series started in 1995. In March 2020, the final month of the period covered, COVID-19 containment measures began to be widely introduced by Member States. In the fourth quarter of 2019, GDP had grown by 0.1percent in the euro area and by 0.2percent in the EU. Click here to read....

Health and Environment
Coronavirus: RescEU masks delivered to Spain, Italy and Croatia, 2 May 2020

Romania and Germany are the first Member States to host the RescEU reserve and are therefore responsible for procuring the equipment, while the Commission finances 100 percent of the assets such as personal protective equipment. In these first deliveries, 330,000 masks were delivered to Italy, Spain and Croatia. Click here to read....

Coronavirus Global Response: €7.4 billion raised for universal access to vaccines, 4 May 2020

The EC registered €7.4 billion in pledges from donors worldwide during the Coronavirus Global Response pledging event. This includes a pledge of €1.4 billion by the Commission. The fund is aimed at gathering significant funding to ensure the collaborative development and universal deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus. Click here to read....

EU sets up a Humanitarian Air Bridge, 8 May 2020

The European Commission has set up an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the coronavirus response to some of most critical areas around the world. The Global EU response to Coronavirus follows a Team Europe approach. It draws on contributions from all EU institutions and combines the resources mobilised by EU Member States and financial institutions, to address the humanitarian, health, and other consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to read....

€117 million granted for treatments and diagnostics through the Innovative Medicines Initiative, 12 may 2020

The Commission announced today that 8 large-scale research projects, aimed at developing treatments and diagnostics for the coronavirus, were selected in a fast-track call for proposals, launched in March by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership. Out of the 8 projects funded under the IMI call, 5 are focusing on diagnostics and 3 on treatments. The ones that will be working on diagnostic tools intend to develop devices that can be used anywhere, such as in the doctor's surgery or in a patient's own home, and can deliver fast results in 14-40 minutes. The other projects, which will focus on the development of treatments, will primarily work on the current coronavirus outbreak, while they will make substantial efforts to prepare for future outbreaks. Click here to read....

Perspective (s)
A Post-Pandemic Revival for Regionalism: The Role of the EU, 8 May 2020

The current international economic system is stress-tested by a series of systemic challenges ranging from trade disputes and protectionism to climate change and global scale epidemic. At this crucial juncture for the world economy, it is the regional layer of multilateral institutions and integration blocks that has the potential to overcome the excesses of narrow national self-interest and raise international cooperation to a higher level. The EU could play a leading role in creating a platform for cooperation among the regional integration arrangements and their development institutions for the benefit of the world economy. Click here to read....

Is COVID-19 further dividing the 'United' Kingdom? 14 May 2020

The coronavirus crisis is adding yet more strain to a United Kingdom which, for the best part of a decade, has seemed anything but united. So, why the divergence when all of the UK, like elsewhere in Europe, is attempting to ease its lockdowns? Click here to read....

Politics and Society
Russia celebrated 75th Victory Day, 9 May 2020

Russia celebrated its 75th Victory Day parade this year amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The event was supposed to be larger than usual and culminate in a military parade in the Red Square. The opening of a new Christian Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Russian army on May 9 was also in the schedule. All this was postponed owing to health concerns. However, celebratory military air show was still held. Click here to read....

High level Working Group soon between India and Russia for coking coal import, 7 May 2020

India and Russia are moving ahead with the formation of a high-level Working Group for facilitating coking coal imports. This was emphasised during discussions between Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, with Minister of Energy of Russia, Alexander Novak through Video Conferencing. The discussions also encompassed the global oil and gas scenario and review of bi-lateral cooperation in the sectors of oil and gas sector and coking coal. Click here to read....

Russia to float out new sub to carry Poseidon nuke drone in late June, 7 May 2020

The second submarine to serve as a basic carrier of Russia’s Poseidon nuclear-capable underwater drones will be floated out approximately in late June, TASS quoted a defense industry source. "The Khabarovsk [Project 09852] will be floated out in late June at the earliest. The first basic carrier of Poseidon drones, a Project 09852 special-purpose nuclear sub, the Belgorod, was floated out on April 23, 2019. Click here to read....

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov Hospitalised with Coronavirus, 12 May 2020

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has been hospitalised with coronavirus, RIA Novosti news agency reported on 12 may. Peskov is the fourth senior Russian official to test positive for the coronavirus. Earlier, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced on April 30 that he was infected. Subsequently, Minister of Construction Vladimir Yakushev and Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova tested positive as well. Click here to read....

Number of IT crimes in Russia rises by over 82 percent in four months, 14 May 2020

The number of IT crimes committed in Russia increased by more than 82 percentin the first quarter of 2020, TASS quoted the press centre of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. The ministry emphasised that criminal activity in the field of information and communication technologies in Russia remains high. Click here to read....

First case of COVID-19 documented on Kuril Islands, 15 May 2020

Officials of the Southern Kuril Islands have introduced a state of emergency on the territory of the Shikotan Island (Southern Kuril Islands, Sakhalin Region) after the first case of the novel coronavirus was documented on its territory. Click here to read....

Russia’s coronavirus cases surpass 262,000, 15 May 2020

The number of people infected with the coronavirus in Russia has risen by 10,598 over the past 24 hours reaching 262,843, the anti-coronavirus crisis centre reported on Friday. According to the crisis centre, the daily growth rate stood at 4.2percent compared to 4.1% the day before. Furthermore, 4,504 cases (42.5percent) are asymptomatic. Click here to read....

Rosneft withdraws from all projects in Venezuela, discontinues operations in country, 15 May 2020

Rosneft has completely discontinued its operations in Venezuela and withdrawn from all projects in the country, including exploration and production entities, as well as oilfield services companies, according to Chief Executive Officer of Russia’s oil major Igor Sechin. The decision was taken in view of the US sanctions, according to previous information. Click here to read....

Millions of migrants across Russia, Central Asia, ‘teetering on the brink’, as UN launches urgent appeal, 15 May 2020

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched an urgent $7 million appeal to ease the impact of COVID-19 on migrant communities. The appeal aims to help thousands who are stranded in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and Russia where the pandemic is pushing a growing number of migrant workers into poverty.It was launched virtually by more than 100 representatives from donors, embassies, migration experts and Governments, together with senior IOM staff in Vienna, Moscow, Nur Sultan and other regional capitals. Click here to read....

Vladimir Putin held a videoconference meeting on the sanitary-epidemiological situation and new measures to support citizens and the country's economy, 11 May 2020

A day before the last day (12 May)of the ongoing lockdown, Putin held a videoconference to discuss and outline to ensure a gradual, phased exit from the regimes of restrictions associated with the coronavirus epidemic. He also signed a decree which would serve legal basis for continuing the joint work of federal authorities, regions and municipalities to combat the epidemic of coronavirus. Click here to read....

Health and Environment
COVID-19 to encourage formation of new healthcare pattern in Russia, 6 May 2020

COVID-19 should encourage the Russian leadership to form a new pattern of healthcare system and main social and economic institutions, Deputy Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Galina Izotova told TASS. "Overall, the situation around the pandemic should encourage the state to form a new sustainable pattern of healthcare and main social and economic institutions," she said. Click here to read....

Twenty-four wildfires active in Russia’s Trans-Baikal Region out of 634 recorded this year, 7 May 2020

The Russian Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) has registered 634 wildfires since the beginning of this year in the Trans-Baikal Region, the Ministry's press service. Click here to read....

Russia moves up to second place in COVID-19 cases, 12 May 2020

Russia has surpassed Spain to become second most affected country in terms of incidence of COVID-19 cases while the United States continues to remain the worst affected globally. Despite that, the death figures in Russia are markedly low when compared to the toll in the US and Europe. Click here to read....

First vaccines against coronavirus may appear in Russia in late July, 13 May 2020

The first vaccines against the novel coronavirus may appear in Russia in late July, Russian Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko stated during a plenary session of the Russian State Duma. Click here to read....

What Does Russia Want from the United States? by Dmitri Trenin, 15 May 2020

The main reason for Moscow to reach out to Washington with an offer of cooperation in a non-existential crisis is that a coalition would allow it—just as the Obama administration had hoped in 2009-2010—to break through the logjams blocking the relationship. Click here to read....

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