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UKRAINE

Thousands gather in Florence and Paris to show support for Ukraine

Thousands of people gathered in the Italian city of Florence on Saturday to show their support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appearing via videolink.

People watch a giant screen (not in picture) displaying an image of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking through a video link in Florence. 
People watch a giant screen (not in picture) displaying an image of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking through a video link, addressing people taking part in a peace rally for Ukraine on March 12th, 2022 in Florence. Carlo BRESSAN / AFP

The square outside the Santa Croce basilica became a sea of rainbow peace flags peppered with blue and yellow, the colours of Ukraine’s national flag.

In an address shown on a big screen, Zelensky told the crowd his country was under bombardment “24 hours a day”, targeting schools, hospitals and residential areas, “even churches, even squares like yours”.

According to an Italian translation, he said 79 children had been killed in the conflict so far, saying Europe must “not forget”.

A Ukrainian woman takes part in a peace rally for Ukraine on March 12th, 2022 in Florence. Similar rallies took place simultaneously in several European cities to demand a ceasefire in Ukraine and an end to the war. (Photo by Carlo BRESSAN / AFP)

The demonstration was organised by Florence mayor Dario Nardella, also president of the Eurocities network of more than 200 cities across 38 countries.

In France, meanwhile, nearly 10,000 people demonstrated in cities across France to show their support for the people of Ukraine.

Protesters deploy a giant Ukrainian national flag and hold placards during a support demonstration in Paris on March 12th, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Around a thousand gathered in Paris to denounce the Russian invasion, many carrying blue and yellow badges, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Some carried placards calling for a boycott of Russian oil and gas.

Last weekend, more than 40,000 people turned out across France, including 16,000 in Paris.

Across France, people also came out in force to call for more attention to the climate crisis in the run-up to presidential polls next month.

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UKRAINE

France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

The French government aims to have its natural gas storage reserves at full capacity by autumn, with European countries bracing for supply cuts from major supplier Russia as the Ukraine war continues, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Thursday

France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

“We are ensuring the complete filling of our storage capacities, aiming to be close to 100 percent by early autumn,” and France will also build a new floating methane terminal to receive more energy supplies by ship, Borne said.

France is much less dependant on Russian gas than its neighbours, and announced earlier this week that it has not received any Russian gas by pipeline since June 15th.

Meanwhile Germany moved closer to rationing natural gas on Thursday as it raised the alert level under an emergency plan after Russia slashed supplies to the country.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference.

French PM Borne on Thursday also confirmed that the bouclier tarifaire (price shield) will remain in pace until the end of 2022 – this freezes the price of household gas and limits rises in electricity bills for homes to four percent.

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