Poland And Bulgaria Are Getting Gas From EU Neighbors After Russia Cut Them Off When They Refused To Pay In Rubles, An Escalation Of Tensions With The West

Poland And Bulgaria Are Getting Gas From EU Neighbors After Russia Cut Them Off When They Refused To Pay In Rubles, An Escalation Of Tensions With The West

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1 hr 9 min agoPoland and Bulgaria are receiving gas from EU neighbors, European Commission president saysFrom CNN’s James Frater in Brussels

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen makes a statement in Brussels, Belgium, on April 27, following the decision by Russian energy giant Gazprom to halt gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)Poland and Bulgaria are receiving gas from their EU neighbors, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

This comes after Russian energy giant Gazprom halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday, after both countries refused to pay the Russian energy giant in rubles, the company said in a statement. 

In a statement, von der Leyen called it “another provocation from the Kremlin” and accused Moscow of using gas to “blackmail” the bloc.

“This is something the European Commission has been preparing for, in close coordination and solidarity with Member States and international partners. Our response will be immediate, united and coordinated,” she said in a statement. “First, we will ensure that Gazprom’s decision has the least possible impact on European consumers. Today, Member States met in the Gas Coordination Group. Poland and Bulgaria updated us on the situation. Both Poland and Bulgaria are now receiving gas from their EU neighbours.”The official also stressed the need for reliable energy partners, promising the end of the era of Russian fossil fuels in Europe.

Further in her statement, she committed to ensuring a plan for the “medium term” for sufficient gas supply and storage, and also looked forward to investing in a “green transition.”

“In the longer term, REPowerEU will also help us move to a more reliable, secure and sustainable energy supply. We will present our plans to speed up the green transition in mid-May. Every euro we invest in renewables and energy efficiency is a down payment on our future energy independence,” she said. 

Bulgaria is “in constant communication” with the European Commission as “joint supplies at the EU level are being discussed,” Bulgaria’s Energy Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. 

Speaking at a briefing in the capital Sofia, Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov said “the consumption of natural gas in Bulgaria is guaranteed for at least a month ahead and at the moment there is no need to limit consumption.” 

Nikolov said a warning from Russia’s Gazprom was received on Tuesday that said supplies would be interrupted. He said under the current contract, Bulgaria’s gas operator Bulgargaz has fulfilled all of its obligations and that Gazprom is not fulfilling the contractual commitments on the part of the supplier. 

“It is obvious that in the current situation of war in Ukraine, natural gas is used by Russia as a political and economic weapon,” said Nikolov, adding that Bulgaria won’t hold talks under pressure.

Bulgaria’s natural gas operating companies have ensured the continuity of “alternative supplies,” the ministry said. 

“Our country is a loyal partner in existing contracts and we will not jeopardize supplies to our neighbors,” Nikolov said.

CNN’s Radina Gigova contributed reporting to this post.

3 hr 5 min agoTrevor Reed’s release a result of “months and months” of work, US official saysFrom CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

U.S. ex-Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in 2019 and accused of assaulting police officers, is escorted before a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, on March 11, 2020. (Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters)A senior US administration official said the release of Trevor Reed was the result of “months and months of hard careful work across the US government” on the matter, noting that “the conversations on this particular issue have accelerated recently to get us to this point.” 

One driving factor was concern of Reed’s health. His family has expressed worry about his likely exposure to tuberculosis as well as lingering effects from having Covid-19.

The official, speaking to reporters on a background call Wednesday, said that “ultimately, those negotiations led the President to have to make a very hard decision with a decision to commute the sentence of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian smuggler convicted of conspiring to import cocaine.” 

The official did not provide details about how or why Yaroshenko was chosen for the swap, but noted that he had served the majority of his US sentence and is now in Russian custody.

“This is a tough call for a President, President Biden made it to bring home an American whose health was a source of an intense concern, and to deliver on his commitment to resolve these hard cases and reunite Americans with their loved ones,” the official added.

Reed is now on his way back to his family in the United States.

3 hr 10 min agoMore than 20,000 Ukrainians have been processed at the US-Mexico border since mid-MarchFrom CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez 

Ukrainian refugees fleeing war, camp inside a shelter in a gymnasium at the Unidad Deportiva Benito Juárez as they await processing of their applications along the border with the United States in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, on April 9. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)The Department of Homeland Security processed more than 20,000 Ukrainians at the US-Mexico border and granted them humanitarian parole since March 11, when officials began exempting them on a case-by-case basis following Russia’s invasion, according to a newly filed court declaration.

Blas Nuñez-Neto, a top Homeland Security official, outlined the Biden administration’s plans for an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border when a public health authority, known as Title 42, lifts in a court filing following a federal judge’s intent to temporarily block the wind down. 

DHS, Nunez-Neto said, will be “significantly curtailing” those exception, given the launch of Uniting for Ukraine, a streamlined process for Ukrainians seeking to come to the United States. 

“The Department strongly encourages all potential applicants to apply directly from Europe, where they will have greater support than if they apply from Mexico or elsewhere,” the filing reads. 

3 hr 14 min agoTrevor Reed’s release will not impact the US’ approach to Russia’s war in Ukraine, officials sayFrom CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

The weeks of negotiations that resulted in Trevor Reed’s release from detention in Russia will have no impact on the Biden administration’s approach to the Ukraine war.

“It represents no change – zero – to our approach to the appalling violence in Ukraine,” the first official said. The official said that the negotiations focused on “a discrete issue on which we were able to make an arrangement with the Russians.”

The officials said the negotiations did not involve additional “senior level of travel” to Russia but that the case had been raised at multiple levels, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov prior to the start of the war.

A second senior administration official noted this was done by the interagency, but also helped by media interest in Reed’s case.

3 hr 45 min ago3 Norwegian diplomats have been expelled from Russia, Norway saysFrom Amy Cassidy in London

Russia has expelled three Norwegian diplomats, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press office told CNN on Wednesday.

It comes after Norway granted the same number of Russian diplomats persona non grata earlier this month in re

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