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EU and China step up their cooperation on sustainable development

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During a visit to China, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, reconfirmed the EU’s interest to work with China on sustainable development and connectivity.

In a meeting between Commissioner Mimica and the Chairman of the newly-established China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) Wang Xiaotao, both sides agreed to seek synergies and concrete areas of cooperation to enhance EU–China development cooperation. The meeting confirmed both parties’ commitment to jointly promote sustainable development, as outlined at the 20th EU-China Summit in July 2018, and as reconfirmed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Summit in Brussels in October 2018.

Commissioner Mimica welcomed the establishment of CIDCA as an important opportunity for the EU and China to strengthen their cooperation as global development partners. Both sides highlighted their interest in cooperating on concrete initiatives to promote sustainable development and agreed to enhance bilateral exchanges on policies and best practices.

In this context, Commissioner Mimica stressed: “We have a shared responsibility to deliver on the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. EU’s recent ‘Connecting Europe and Asia’ strategy has set out our vision for increased cooperation with our Asian partners in key areas of connectivity and sustainable development. I look forward to enhancing the cooperation with Chinese counterparts on concrete initiatives and to intensifying our exchanges on development policies. There is great potential to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda when working in partnerships.”

During his visit to China, Commissioner Mimica participated in the Central Asia Investment Forum organised by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the People’s Bank of China. In the margins of this event, he discussed with Suma Chakrabarti,President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank about the potential to join forces on shared priorities. In his speech at the forum, Commissioner Mimica underlined the importance of catalysing public and private investment in the connectivity and sustainable development of the Central Asia region – including job creation, sustainable infrastructure, more robust environmental protection and stronger climate change mitigation and adaptation. In this context, he announced an EU grant of €7.3 million to support small and medium-sized businesses in Turkmenistan and Mongolia, to be implemented by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The Commissioner also participated in the China-EU Development Conference, as well as in a Gender Equality panel which included the United Nations, the Chinese government and NGO representatives, where he highlighted the EU’s interest to work more in and with China on gender equality.

Commissioner Mimica also met the Vice-Minister of Finance Zou Jiayi and the Chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges Zeng Peiyan.

Background

As outlined in the European Consensus on Development, the European Union aims to engage more closely with China and other major global development actors s part of a new partnership towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

This commitment has been confirmed at the highest political levels, including the 20th EU-China Summit in July 2018, where the European Union and China agreed to “promote mutual understanding and share experience on international development cooperation through enhanced exchanges, and make joint efforts to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”.

At the ASEM Summit meeting in Brussels in October 2018, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to aim towards creating additional synergies between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the EU’s strategy to boost connectivity between Europe and Asia, which was presented in September 2018.

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“It looks like most of them were shot in the head…”

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Image source: NYT

The New York Times” confirmed the location of the farmhouse by comparing the aerial video of the episode with satellite imagery of Makiivka, Luhansk. A series of videos that surfaced on social media last week has ignited a debate over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes as they tried to capture a group of Russian soldiers who were then killed.

The videos show the grisly before-and-after scenes of the encounter earlier this month, in which at least 11 Russians, most of whom are seen lying on the ground (photo), appear to have been shot dead at close range.

The videos, detailed below and whose authenticity has been verified by “The New York Times”, offer a rare look into one gruesome moment among many in the war.

The videos were first circulated by Ukrainian news and social media channels that used them to laud the military prowess of their armed forces and publicize their heroic retaking of territory lost to Russia early in the war.

In Russia, however, the videos prompted a fierce response among Russian commentators, who urged the government to seek an international investigation.

“We are aware of the videos, and we are looking into them,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office, told Reuters. “Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account.”

Under international law, the French term “hors de combat” refers to people who are “outside of combat” because of their surrender, being unarmed, unconscious or otherwise unable to defend themselves.

“It looks like most of them were shot in the head,” Dr. Rohini Haar, a forensic expert and faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said in an interview. “There are pools of blood. That indicates that they were just left there dead. There appears to have been no effort to pick them up or help them.”

Dr. Haar noted that when they surrendered, the Russian soldiers had been lying down, apparently unarmed, with their arms outstretched or behind their heads. “They’re considered hors de combat, or noncombatants — effectively prisoners of war,” Dr. Haar said.

The Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court, could prosecute this under several of its articles if Ukraine were a party to the treaty, Dr. Haar said, including Article 8b (vi), which says, “Killing or wounding a combatant, who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion” is a violation of the laws of international armed conflict.

…It is absolutely clear that the killers from the Ukrainian army vilely shot Russian soldiers who were captured by them.  The goal is simple and clear – to raise the level of hatred between the Russians and Ukrainians, cause more bloodshed. This inhuman act resembles very much a well-known British slogan: “Divide and rule”.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene: “We’re going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine”

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House Republicans critical of U.S. assistance to Ukraine during its war with Russia introduced a privileged resolution to audit the funds allocated by Congress. The resolution is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (photo) (R-Ga.) and backed by a group of GOP lawmakers.

The resolution, which calls for preserving administration documents and communications related to Ukraine funding distribution, speaks to other criticisms among some Republican lawmakers who support aid to Ukraine but say more oversight is needed.

The Biden administration has provided more than $20 billion in military assistance to Kyiv, as well as about $10 billion in humanitarian assistance and about $13 billion in economic assistance. President Biden has called for Congress to earmark $37.7 billion in additional funding for Ukraine.

Greene introduced the bill as a privileged resolution, meaning it will be referred to the relevant committee, where members will have 14 business days to either reject it, or approve it for a vote on the House floor.

Greene said she is prepared to reintroduce the resolution in the next Congress when Republicans hold the majority.

“I’ll introduce this resolution again, but I’ll also be calling for a full audit. We voted ‘no’ to send money over there, but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine.”

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Overnight blasts near Ukraine nuclear plant are ‘playing with fire!’

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The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Ⓒ IAEA

Powerful explosions shook the area of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), “abruptly ending a period of relative calm” at the facility, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said on Sunday.In a statement issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that that blasts yesterday evening and again this morning further underlined “the urgent need for measures to help prevent a nuclear accident there”.

“As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”.

Renewed shelling

In what appeared to be renewed shelling near and at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, IAEA experts on the ground reported that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time in the morning local time.

The IAEA team were also able to see some of the explosions from their windows.

The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing”, said Mr. Grossi.

Citing information provided by plant management, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems, and equipment at the site, but noncritical for nuclear safety and security.

“Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable”, he added. “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately”.

According to news reports, Russian and Ukrainian nuclear energy authorities each blamed the other side’s forces for the strikes – triggering fears of a serious nuclear accident. So far, there have been no reports of any radiation leaks at the Russian-occupied plant.

Nuclear-free zone

The IAEA experts said that there were no reported casualties, and they are in close contact with site management.

Meanwhile as they continue to assess and relay updates on the situation, the IAEA chief renewed his urgent appeal that both sides of the conflict agree to implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible.

In recent months, he has been engaging in intense consultations with Ukraine and Russia on establishing a zone – but, so far, no agreement has been reached.

“I’m not giving up until this zone has become a reality”, said Mr. Grossi. “As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever”.

Gambling with lives

Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the senior UN official said, “the shelling came dangerously close to them”.

“We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives”.

The IAEA team of experts plan to conduct an assessment of the shelling impact on the site tomorrow.

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