Meeting – Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis had a bilateral meeting with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday on the sidelines of the European Council meeting. The two talked about further strengthening bilateral relations, with a focus on economic and energy cooperation, as well as on Romania's accession to the Schengen area. ‘We continue coordination in relation to the security situation and the ways to help the refugees from Ukraine, Klaus Iohannis wrote on Twitter. Romania’s President attended the European Council meeting on Thursday and Friday. On the first day of the meeting, he met with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Kiril Petkov. Talks with the Bulgarian official focused on coordinating the security situation in the region, helping Ukrainian refugees, deepening economic and energy cooperation and accelerating interconnectivity between the two countries. On Thursday, Klaus Iohannis also attended the Extraordinary NATO Summit.
Aid - The Romanian government is to approve, in today's meeting, a non-reimbursable aid for the neighboring Republic of Moldova (ex-Soviet with a majority Romanian-speaking population) worth 100 million Euros. In this way Romania wants to support the authorities from the neighboring state in carrying out development projects and reforms in several fields. Another law in the focus of the government is meant to increase the energy performance of apartment buildings through modernization and rehabilitation works. Another two government decisions provide for the allocation to the state budget of a 50 % share of the profit of the National Company Romgaz and of the National Company Transelectrica, profits remaining after the payment of taxes. The government also wants to approve the budgets for this year for the Bucharest Underground company, CFR Călători and CFR Marfă – the railway passenger and freight transport companies and for the "Mihail Kogălniceanu" International Airport in Constanţa. Also in today's session, the National Health Programs will be approved, including those for HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis and for Mental Health and Organ Transplants.
Working group - The United States and the European Union announced on Friday the setting up of a working group that will aim to reduce Europe's dependence on Russia's fossil energy resources due to Moscow's war against Ukraine, AFP reports. The US is expected to supply the European Union with an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) this year as part of an initiative announced by US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Both the NATO and G7 summits were held in the Belgian capital on Thursday, with the participation of US President Joe Biden. NATO has decided to provide additional assistance to Ukraine and continue to strengthen the eastern flank by sending four new multinational combat groups to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia.
Refugees – Nearly 10 thousand Ukrainian citizens entered Romania on Thursday, the Border Police General Inspectorate reported. At national level, a total of 58,700 people entered Romania through border crossing points. More than 5,300 Ukrainian citizens entered the border with Ukraine (increasing by 9.9%), and through the cross-border points with the Republic of Moldova - 2,900 (increasing by 7.9%). Since the start of this crisis until Thursday, at midnight, at national level, 537,548 Ukrainian citizens entered Romania.
Ukraine – The Ukrainian army's counterattacks and the difficulties of the Russian forces in relation to their supply lines have allowed Ukraine to reoccupy cities and defensive positions up to 35 kilometers east of the capital Kyiv, the UK Ministry of Defense was quoted by EFE as saying on Friday. The Ukrainian forces are likely to continue trying to push the Russian army along the northwest axis between Kyiv and the Hostomel airfield, about 70 kilometers from the capital, according to British intelligence services which have data from the ground. In southern Ukraine, the Russian forces are still trying to bypass the city of Mikolaiv (Nikolaiev) in an effort to advance westward in the direction of Odessa, according to the British Ministry of Defense. However, their progress is slowed by logistical problems and Ukrainian resistance. The humanitarian situation in the besieged city of Mariupol continues to deteriorate, while Russia is blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid, the city mayor said. Most of the city is now in ruins. About 100,000 people remain stranded in Mariupol, and the large-scale evacuation efforts have failed.
Warsaw - US President Joe Biden will travel to Poland, a NATO member country, where he will meet with Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war. He will visit Rzeszow, a town 80 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. The American leader will be received by Polish President Andrzej Duda at the airport of this city located two and a half hours from Lvov, the main city in western Ukraine. Joe Biden will be briefed on "the humanitarian response to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Ukraine and to respond to the growing influx of refugees fleeing the war that Putin has chosen," the White House said. The US president will then meet with US troops stationed in the region and which "contribute, along with our Polish ally, to NATO's deterrence efforts on its eastern flank." On Friday evening, he will travel to Warsaw, where he will have more consistent talks with his Polish counterpart on Saturday. This two-day visit to Poland comes after an extraordinary diplomatic marathon in Brussels, where Joe Biden attended NATO, G7 and EU summits, praising Western unity in response to Moscow, one month after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. In Brussels, Joe Biden claimed that NATO "has never, ever been so united". (LS)