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UKRAINE

Norway urged to supply EU and Ukraine with more energy by Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday urged Norway, the second-biggest supplier of gas to Europe behind Russia, to deliver more energy to his country and the European Union.

Pictured is Ukrainian president Zelensky.
Zelensky became the fourth foreigner to ever speak in Norway's parliament on Wednesday and urged the country to increase its oil and gas production. In this handout picture taken and released by the Ukrainian Presidency Press Office on March 18, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation in Kyiv on March 18. Photo by Handout / UKRAINE PRESIDENCY / AFP

Addressing the Norwegian parliament via video link, he also called for a ban on Russian vessels in Europe’s ports.

“You can make a decisive contribution to the energy security of Europe by providing the necessary resources, both for the countries of the European Union and for Ukraine,” he said in a speech that ended with a long standing ovation from lawmakers.

“We already started the dialogue on the supply of about five billion cubic metres of gas for the next heating season”, Zelensky added

Prior to the conflict in Ukraine, Norway supplied between 20 and 25 percent of the EU’s and Britain’s gas needs, while 45 to 50 percent was supplied by Russia.

The EU is now trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

Oslo has taken steps to maintain its gas production at its maximum level throughout the summer, which is normally a period when gas companies take advantage of low demand to carry out maintenance on their offshore platforms.

“We are delivering as much as we can”, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store reiterated Wednesday in an interview with Norwegian channel TV2.

Zelensky also said Russian ships should be banned from Europe’s ports.

“The European Union, and I hope also Norway, have to introduce a ban for Russian vessels to use European ports”.

“For the time being, while (the Russians) are blocking our ports, they should not have the right of using the ports of the free world”, he insisted.

As in his previous addresses to other countries’ parliaments, Zelensky reiterated his plea for more weapons, including anti-ship missiles, anti-armoured vehicle systems, and anti-air defences.

Earlier Wednesday, Norway announced it had supplied an additional 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, doubling the number sent to the country since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

The Norwegian government also announced that it was donating 20 million euros ($22 million) through the World Bank to finance Ukrainian government services, in order to pay the salaries of health care workers, teachers and civil servants, as well as pensions and social benefits.

The Ukrainian President became only the fourth foreigner to ever address Norway’s parliament with his speech.  

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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