Missiles rained down on Ukraine killing scores of civilians and injuring dozens in built-up areas at the start of the weekend, prompting President Volodymyr Zelensky to accuse Russia of state "terror".
Attacks on a southern resort town left 21 dead and dozens injured after missiles slammed into apartments and a recreation center in Sergiyvka, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Black Sea port of Odessa.
The rockets hit residential properties in Solviansk, in the heart of the besieged Donbas region, killing a woman in her garden and wounding her husband, a neighbor told AFP on Saturday, describing debris strewn across the neighbourhood.
The witness said Friday's attack was thought to have used cluster munitions that spread over a large area before exploding, hitting buildings and people outdoors.
The attacks came after Moscow abandoned positions on a strategic island in a major setback to the Kremlin invasion.
The victims of the Sergiyvka attacks included a 12-year-old boy, Zelensky said in his daily address to the nation, adding that some 40 people were injured and the death toll could rise.
"I emphasize: this is a deliberate and purposeful act of Russian terror, and not some kind of mistake or an accidental missile attack," Zelensky said.
"Three missiles hit a normal nine-story apartment building, in which no weapons were hidden, no military equipment," he added. "Normal people, civilians, lived there."
'Cruel manner' Germany was quick to condemn the violence.
"The cruel way in which the Russian aggressor is taking the killing of civilians in stride and speaking again of collateral damage is inhumane and cynical," said German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.
The attacks follow global outrage earlier this week when a Russian strike destroyed a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, killing at least 18 civilians.
President Vladimir Putin has denied his forces were responsible for that attack, and Moscow had no immediate comment on the Odessa attacks.
On Friday, Zelensky hailed a new chapter in its relationship with the European Union, after Brussels recently granted candidate status to Ukraine in Kyiv's bid to join the 27-member bloc, even if the EU is likely to be years away. membership.
“Our journey to membership should not take decades. We should go down this road quickly," Zelensky told Ukraine's parliament.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, addressing Ukrainian lawmakers by video link, said membership was "within reach" but urged them to work on anti-corruption reforms.
Norway, which is not a member of the EU, announced $1 billion in aid for Kyiv on Friday, including reconstruction and weapons.
And the Pentagon said it was sending a new weapons package worth $820 million, including two air defense systems and more ammunition for Himars precision rocket launchers that the United States began supplying last month.
Soup dispute In a move that further chilled relations between Kyiv and Moscow, the UN cultural agency inscribed Ukraine's tradition of cooking borshch soup on its list of endangered cultural heritage.
Ukraine considers the nutritious soup, usually made with beets, a national dish, although it is also widely consumed in Russia, other countries of the former Soviet Union, and Poland.
UNESCO said the decision was approved after a fast-track process prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"We will win both in the borshch war and in this war," Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Telegram.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Hummus and pilaf are recognized as national dishes of various nations. Everything is subject to Ukrainization.”
Phosphorous bombs On Thursday, Russian troops abandoned their positions on Snake Island, which had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance in the early days of the war, and moved away from sea lanes near the port of Odessa.
The Russian Defense Ministry described the withdrawal as "a goodwill gesture" intended to show that Moscow will not interfere with UN efforts to organize protected grain exports from Ukraine.
But on Friday night, Kyiv accused Moscow of carrying out phosphorous incendiary munition attacks on the rocky outcrop, saying the Russians could not “respect even their own statements”.
In peacetime, Ukraine is a major exporter of agricultural products, but Russia's invasion has damaged farmland and Ukraine's ports have been seized, razed or blocked, raising concerns about food shortages, especially in poor countries.
Western powers have accused Putin of using the trapped harvest as a weapon to increase pressure on the international community, and Russia has been accused of stealing grain.
Ukraine on Friday asked Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged cargo ship that Kyiv said had set sail from the Kremlin-occupied port of Berdyansk.
As heavy fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, authorities said schools in the Ukrainian capital would reopen at the start of the school year on September 1 for the first in-person classes since lessons began online after the invasion began. .
Olena Fidanyan, head of Kyiv's education and science department, said the ground around schools will be checked for explosives and bomb shelters in schools will be restocked with essentials.
How 1,130 looted Benin Bronzes got to Germany – FGBronzes By Rotimi Ijikanmi Abuja, July 1, 2023 The Federal Government says many of the1,130 looted Benin Bronzes to be repatriated to Nigeria from Germany got to German public institutions via trade and donationsThe Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this on Friday in Berlin during the signing of a historic joint declaration between Nigeria and Germany.The signing of joint declaration according to the minister, will pave the way for the return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria,A statement issued on the ceremony in Berlin made available to newsmen in Abuja, said that Mohammed, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada signed for Nigeria.In the statement signed by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Ms Annalena Baerbock, and the Minister of State for Culture and Media, Ms. Claudia Roth, signed for Germany.Adeyemi is the Special Assistant to the President (Media) Office of the Minister of Information and CultureAs contained in the statement, Mohammed said that Germany did not colonise Nigeria and was not part of the looting of the artefacts.The minister recalled that the artefacts were looted from the ancient Benin Kingdom during the Benin Expedition of 1897 by the British force.Mohammed thanked the government and people of Germany for what he described as the ”single largest repatriation of artefacts anywhere in the world”.”We also want to most sincerely thank the authorities of the various German regions, cities, museums and institutions that have been working in concert to ensure the manifestation of the history-making event that we are witnessing today.“By this singular action, Germany has taken the lead in correcting the wrongs of the past,” he said.The minister said that Germany and the great people of the nation decided it was better to shape the future by correcting the ills of the past.He said pace-setting action by the Federal Government of Germany would become a harbinger of more repatriation of cultural property to their place of origin.According to Mohammed, other museums and institutions are expected to take a cue from what Germany has done.”Germany has gained more friends in Nigeria and all over the world by returning to Nigeria what rightfully belongs to it,” he said.On his part, Dada described Germany as the ‘champion of justice and fairness’.Also Speaking, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany said, ”It was wrong to take the (Benin) bronzes. It was wrong to keep them for (125 years). This is the beginning to right the wrong.”According to the statement, in a symbolic gesture signifying the impending return of the artefacts, two of the Benin Bronzes were handed over to Nigeria at the ceremony.The signing was witnessed by top Nigerian and German government officials, including the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Yusuf Tuggar, and the Director-General of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof. Abba Tijani.
The European Union (EU) has inaugurated the ‘Team Europe Initiative (TEI) Nigeria Green Economy’ project aimed at stimulating sustainable climate-smart agriculture and renewable energy for economic growth and diversification.
The EU ambassador to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ms Samuela Isopi, unveiled the project at the 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum tagged: “Nigeria and the New Economy” on Friday, in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that members of the TEI Green Economy Project are: Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
According to the ambassador, the TEI Green Economy consists of 60 projects of different nature to be executed across the agricultural and energy sectors by 2027 and is valued at 1.3 billion Euros.
Isopi said the project was aimed at improving the competitive advantage of Nigeria’s agriculture and energy sectors, with emphasis on access to clean and renewable energy as well as job creation, skills and capacity development.
She added that the project was a result of collaborative efforts with the EU and member states, private and public sectors and the development financial institutions.
She assured continued support for the Nigerian government in the implementation of its economic diversification policies and new partnerships with the private sector.
“In line with the EU’s Green Deal, the Green Economy Initiative will support the Nigerian government’s efforts to diversify the economy by combining support to enhance access to renewable energy for productive uses and boosting the development of the agricultural sector.
“Collectively, the actions will help Nigeria attain the SDGs and put the country on a sustainable development path.
“The initiative will offer support in areas of expertise and strong European contribution such as climate-smart agriculture, technological and digital solutions, vocational training, employment and entrepreneurship creation as well as access to sustainable energy,” she said.
She said the TEI would forge new partnerships with member states interested in supporting Nigeria’s circular economy efforts.
Ms Inga Stefanowicz, EU Team Leader, Green and Digital Economy in Nigeria, said the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Development Financial Institutions would assist various players in the value-chains in the agricultural and energy sectors.
“By combining EIB’s investment facilities with the European Development Finance Institutions and EU member states, the flagship initiative will create space for EU trade and investment while generating job opportunities for Nigeria’s youth.
“In agriculture, support will be provided to promote and increase climate-smart agricultural production and value-added creation in selected value chains to address food insecurity, increase agricultural exports, tackle skills gaps and create jobs.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and state institutions will be supported in the delivery of its mandate, and in particular, development of agricultural education, integrating ICT and technical and vocational education and training,” she said.
Stefanowicz added that field interventions would concentrate on creating positive spillover effects through the value chains including smallholder farmers, aggregators, processors, manufacturers, wholesalers, transporters and retailers.
She said interventions in the energy sector would include capacity building, policy dialogue and advisory services with the ministry of power and its agencies, in developing an enabling policy environment, and adoption and implementation of measures.
“They will concentrate on effective delivery of the Ministry’s mandate including the Paris Agreement Commitment, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) targets as well as the development of new energy access business models with the private sector.
She added that the team would work with the Federal and State governments to address obstacles to ease of doing business and investment.
Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, lauded the initiative, adding that the agricultural sector had the largest potential to diversify the economy and provide the broad-based growth necessary for development as a “new growth engine.”
Abubakar, who was represented by Dr Emmanuel Olaleye, Director, Agri-Business and Market Development, said the agricultural sector was essential to job creation, securing food supply, lowering inflation and expanding foreign exchange earnings.
He said the Federal Government would continue to prioritise activities in the agriculture sector through targeted policies to attract investments, in line with the diversification drive and achieving food security.
According to the minister, some of the policies include the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation policy, National Agricultural Resilience Framework (NARF, 2014), Agricultural Promotion Policy, (APP, 2016-2020), and National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP, 2019-2025), among others.
He also emphasised the need for farmers and investors to tap into opportunities of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the country to become Africa’s largest producer of crops like Maize, Rice, and Soybeans.
“The ministry has identified what needs to be done to achieve this by promoting the use of a better variety of seeds that are high yielding, disease-resistant, and adaptive quality.
“We also seek to promote mechanised production through the Green Imperative that is government-enabled but private-sector driven that will reduce human effort and enhance productivity while removing drudgery in the farming operation and strengthen value chain linkages.
“Others include increasing investments in commodity exchanges; aggregation and integration; supporting agricultural research and development; and reducing the risks associated with farming by de-risking agricultural productivity,” he said.
He solicited the support of the EU and the EU countries to assist with capacity building for Nigeria and its companies to prepare proposals to access the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
“EU companies and their Nigerian counterparts should take advantage of available GCF to attract Green Projects to Nigeria.
“Execution of green projects will contribute to the reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions as envisaged in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) strategy,” he said.
Markus Wauschkuhn, Germany’s Cluster Coordinator for Sustainable development projects in Nigeria, said Germany would continue to contribute to Nigeria’s competitive advantage through the Nigerian Competitiveness Project.
According to him, the project focuses on improving Nigeria’s export potential in the area of ginger, tomatoes, chili, leather and garment and other resources to Europe.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned on Friday from an overseas tour to face multiple crises, including the latest resignation of a top Conservative from his scandal-hit government.
The embattled leader found his ruling Conservatives mired in another sexual misconduct controversy shortly after he returned to Britain on Thursday from a NATO summit in Spain.
In a letter to Johnson, Conservative MP Chris Pincher announced he would resign as deputy whip chief after admitting he drank "too much" and "embarrassed myself and other people" on Wednesday night.
Reports said he had been accused of groping two men in front of others at London's exclusive Carlton Club, prompting complaints from Conservatives.
His departure from the whip office, charged with enforcing discipline and party standards, marks the latest allegation of sexual misconduct by the Tories in recent months.
Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned in April after viewing pornography on his mobile phone in the House of Commons.
That sparked a by-election in his previously secure seat that the party lost in a landmark victory for the opposition Liberal Democrats.
Johnson himself has been embroiled in several scandals, including the so-called "Partygate" affair that prompted his own lawmakers to launch a no-confidence motion against him in early June that he narrowly survived.
The 58-year-old prime minister still faces a parliamentary inquiry into whether he lied to MPs about parties breaching the Downing Street lockdown.
'Survival mode' The controversies erupt as Britain grapples with a worsening cost-of-living crisis and a summer of multi-union strikes over wages and working conditions.
Meanwhile, the country continues to struggle to adjust to Brexit and risks a potential trade war with the European Union by unilaterally revising the special deal it agreed with the bloc for Northern Ireland.
The Financial Times reported on Friday that Britain's trade performance this year has fallen to its worst level since records began, adding to the pound's recent slide.
A growing chorus of critics argues that the Johnson administration is too distracted by its own problems to focus on these mounting challenges.
"We have a problem in trade, (a) problem in Northern Ireland, a problem with labor shortages, the pound has devalued significantly, business investment is down," the former Prime Minister told the BBC on Thursday. Labor Minister Tony Blair.
"I think it's incoherent and it's also not well thought out and the reason is that the government is in survival mode - they're not thinking about what is the right long-term plan for Britain's future."
Johnson returned home after nine days of globetrotting that saw him attend three international summits, including a Commonwealth meeting in Rwanda and a G7 meeting in Germany.
'Serious questions' Pincher's resignation within hours of that immediately refocused attention on persistent claims of conservative sleaze.
It also left the UK leader with another top job to fill after the Conservative chairman resigned following two by-election defeats last month, including for the Parish seat.
"The prime minister has accepted the resignation and believes it was right for him to resign," Johnson's deputy spokesman told reporters, amid a series of questions about Pincher.
"(He) thinks that kind of behavior is unacceptable and would encourage those who wish to make a complaint to do so," he added, while refusing to specify exactly what behavior had led the former whip to resign.
The spokesman said he was not aware of any government investigation into the matter, amid anonymous briefings in Downing Street that Pincher would remain as MP, sparking a backlash.
The only two Conservative chairs of parliamentary watchdog committees have written to the party's chief whip urging Pincher to be suspended from the party while his conduct is investigated.
They also demanded a "zero tolerance policy" on sexual misconduct following an "inconsistent and unclear approach".
Pincher only became deputy whip chief in February, when Johnson reportedly defied warnings from other Tories about his behavior.
He previously resigned as a junior whip in 2017, following a complaint that he had made an unwanted pass at a former Olympic rower and potential Conservative election candidate.
Johnson's deputy spokesman denied that the prime minister was aware of any other "specific" allegations against Pincher before his latest appointment.
That has failed to satisfy opposition politicians.
"Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer about why Chris Pincher was given this role in the first place and how he can remain a Conservative MP," Labor Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said.
Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s lawyer says throwing the Social Democrat (SPD) out of his party is out of the question.
“There is no factual or legal basis for that,’’ lawyer Michael Nagel told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper’s Friday edition.
“It will not come to an expulsion from the party,’’ he said.
A hearing of the SPD sub-district of Hanover on several motions filed to expel Schröder from the party had been postponed twice due to COVID-19 and was now scheduled for July 14.
Schröder had faced increasing criticism domestically and within his party for his ties to Moscow, especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Schröder was Germany’s chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and after leaving office was involved with Russian energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft.
He had been a longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nagel said Schröder would not appear at the hearing because there was no reason for him to.
“He was and remains a loyal SPD member,’’ he said.
The Hanover sub-district was leading the proceedings because Schröder was a member of the SPD local association. (