Europe’s leaders reach deal on Russian oil embargo
The E.U. agreed yesterday to ban most imports of Russian oil, the harshest economic penalty yet imposed for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and potentially Europe’s biggest sacrifice. The bloc had already barred imports of Russian natural gas, cut off Russian banks, frozen Russian assets and sent advanced weaponry to Ukraine. Follow the latest updates from the war.
E.U. leaders endorsed an embargo on Russian oil delivered by tankers, the primary method, effectively reducing imports by two-thirds, with commitments to reduce imports by pipeline. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, announced the deal in a late-night tweet, though many details remain to be hashed out.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is financed by sales of crude and refined petroleum and natural gas, which account for most of the country’s export revenue, collected primarily by state-controlled energy companies. Analysts say that Russia will continue to find some buyers for its oil but that sales volume and profits are likely to drop significantly once the embargo takes effect.
Impact: Europe relies heavily on Russian fuels. Officials have warned that the financial cost to E.U. countries will be high. Other sources are expected to be more expensive, and gas and oil shortages are a real possibility. The prohibition on oil deliveries aboard tankers will have no effect on Hungary, a landlocked nation.
Warfare: The endorsement came as a multipronged Kremlin assault closed in on the easternmost Ukrainian-controlled city, Sievierodonetsk, and as Ukraine’s military mounted a counteroffensive to retake the strategic southern city of Kherson.
In other news from the war:
As Ukraine calls for a fast track to E.U. membership, moral questions are butting up against practical concerns. The bloc is looking for an alternative route for Ukraine and other countries on Europe’s periphery.
A 32-year-old French journalist, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, was killed yesterday in eastern Ukraine. At least seven journalists have been killed and at least nine have been injured in the war.
Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian band that won Eurovision, put its trophy up for auction to raise money for the Ukrainian army.
Canada plans to ban handgun sales
The Canadian government yesterday introduced new legislation requiring most owners of “military-style assault weapons” to turn over their firearms to a government buyback program and banning the sale, purchase, importation or transfer of handguns. Together, the legislation would tighten the country’s already stringent control of firearms.
The handgun sales ban and the proposed assault weapons law are the latest steps Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, has taken to restrict firearms since 22 people were killed in rural Nova Scotia by a gunman in 2020. The legislation, which could apply to tens of thousands of firearms, is expected to pass.
The program echoes actions taken by New Zealand in 2019, after a lone gunman stormed two mosques, killing 51 people and injuring dozens of others in Christchurch. After a mass shooting in Australia in 1996, the government there collected more than 650,000 semiautomatic rifles and many shotguns after they were banned under new legislation.
Quotable: “As a government, as a society, we have a responsibility to act to prevent more tragedies,” Trudeau said. He added: “We need only look south of the border to know that if we do not take action, firmly and rapidly, it gets worse and worse and more difficult to counter.”
Colombia’s establishment backs Rodolfo Hernández
Rodolfo Hernández is a Colombian businessman with a populist, anticorruption platform and whose outsider status, incendiary statements and single-issue approach to politics have sparked comparisons to Donald Trump. On Sunday, he came second in Colombia’s presidential election, beating the conservative establishment candidate — and the predictions of pollsters.
Hernández once called himself a follower of Adolf Hitler, has suggested combining major ministries to save money and says that as president he plans to declare a state of emergency to deal with corruption, leading to fears that he could shut down Congress or suspend mayors. But Colombia’s right-wing establishment has begun lining up behind him, bringing many of their votes with them.
His challenger, Gustavo Petro, a former rebel-turned-senator making a bid to be the nation’s first leftist president, is now billing himself as the safe change and Hernández as the dangerous leap into the void. Hernández’s improbable rise reflects both a rejection of the conservative elite who have long controlled the country’s politics — and of Petro.
Analysis: Fernando Posada, a political scientist, said the move was also the establishment right’s last-ditch effort to block Petro, whose plan to remake the Colombian economy “puts at risk many of the interests of the traditional political class.
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Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder with the psychedelic drug MDMA, coupled with therapy, “represents real hope for long-term healing,” health experts say.
“It made me realize there was a reason for my hurt and my fears, and that I could change the outcome,” said one veteran, above, whose PTSD was brought on by events in the Vietnam War.
Abba returns to London
On Thursday night, to a screaming, bouncing crowd, Abba played its first concert in over 40 years, of sorts. The band members onstage, classic ’70s hairstyles and all, weren’t real. Instead, they were meticulous digital re-creations of the group in its 1979 heyday. The real Abba — whose members are all at least 72 years old — was watching from the stands.
Abba Voyage is a 90-minute spectacular that will run in London seven times a week until at least December, with potential to extend until April 2026. During the show, the digital avatars — known as Abbatars — perform a set of hits with the help of a 10-piece live band and an array of lights, lasers and special effects.
The project is the result of eight years of secretive work, protected by hundreds of nondisclosure agreements. That included five weeks filming the real Abba in motion-capture suits in Sweden; four body doubles; endless debates over the set list; and 140 animators. The final budget was 140 million pounds, or about $175 million.
When the pandemic hit, a project that “already seemed ludicrous before Covid” became “doubly ludicrous,” Svana Gisla, one of the show’s producers, said because she had to ask backers to trust the idea that 3,000 people would want to dance next to each other. But dance they did. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” one viewer said, “even though we’re coming again tomorrow and Saturday.”