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Russia extremely concerned by Ukrainian missile downed at Belarusian borders

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The end of the Ukraine/Russia war might not be in sight yet as Russia has expressed concern over a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that was shot down after flying into the air space of its close ally Belarus on Thursday.

The Kremlin said on Friday it was extremely concerned about the event which occurred around 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Thursday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday in Moscow’s first public comment on the incident, that “this is an incident that causes extreme concern, not only for us but for our Belarusian partners.”

Peskov on Friday stressed the close military ties between the two countries, saying they were in “constant dialogue and constant coordination”.

Belarus’ defence ministry said on Thursday its air defence forces had shot down a Ukrainian S-300 surface-to-air missile near the village of Harbacha in the Brest region, some 15 km (9 miles) from the Belarus-Ukraine border.

Russia’s reaction to the event is not surprising as its relations with Belarus are formidable, being Belarus’ largest and most important economic and political partner.  Recall that at the beginning of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, Belarus allowed Moscow to use its territory in February as a staging post for Russian troops and equipment at the start of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014.

The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II with around 7.3 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. It has also caused global food shortages.

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Musings From Abroad

Italian firm, Eni signs $8 billion Libya gas deal as PM Meloni visits Tripoli

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With the aim of boosting energy supplies and other markets, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) signed an $8 billion gas production deal with Italian energy company Eni.

The deal, which comes despite the insecurity and political chaos in the North African country was signed during a visit to Tripoli by Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, aims to increase gas output for the Libyan domestic market as well as exports, through the development of two offshore gas fields.

Meloni met Libya’s Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, head of the internationally recognised Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli for talks that also focused on migration across the Mediterranean.

At a joint news conference with Descalzi, the NOC chief, Farhat Bengdara, said the gas deal had a duration of 25 years and called it the most important new investment in Libya’s energy sector for a quarter of a century.

According to a statement by Eni’s chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, the output will begin in 2026 and reach a plateau of 750 million cubic feet per day.

“This agreement will enable important investments in Libya’s energy sector, contributing to local development and job creation while strengthening Eni’s role as a leading operator in the country.”

Since the beginning of the current Russia/Ukraine war, European countries have sought alternate gas sources outside Russia. Italy on its part has already taken a lead in sourcing gas from Algeria, building a new strategic partnership there that includes investment to help state energy company Sonatrach reverse years of declining output.

Libya is the fourth natural gas producer on the African continent, and oil and gas resources largely contribute to Libya’s export trade. The country developed a strong oil sector after major oil discoveries in the late 1950s.

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Musings From Abroad

EU chief, Josep Borrell, wants South Africa to influence ceasefire with Ukraine

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The regional bloc,  European Union wants South Africa to influence Russia to stop its ongoing war with Ukraine.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday raised expectations that the African country will use its good relations with Russia to convince it to stop the war in Ukraine.

Borrell, while speaking alongside South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor in the capital Pretoria, said “The EU isn’t asking South Africa to choose sides, just asking countries across the world to stand with the UN Charter.”

The EU considers South Africa an important partner in the rules-based international order, he added.

Pandor said: “It is not just South Africa and other African countries that must play a role in seeking peace.”

Full diplomatic relations between South Africa and Russia were established in 1942 as the Soviet Union. Russia has an embassy in Pretoria and a consulate-general in Cape Town. South Africa has an embassy in Moscow.

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