Thursday, 7 July 2022

Green & Bankrupt: Sri Lanka President asks Putin for Cheap Oil

President of Bankrupt Sri Lanka Calls Vladimir Putin Looking for Cheap Oil

Gotabaya Rajapaksa
JOHN ANGELILLO / AFP
6:06

Embattled socialist President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka revealed on Wednesday he had called Russian strongman Vladimir Putin seeking help to purchase oil amid what the nation’s prime minister has called the “complete collapse” of Sri Lanka’s economy.

Sri Lanka’s overture to Russia – reportedly to discuss issuing the bankrupt country yet another credit line to be used for importing oil – follows months of calls from the administration of President Joe Biden and much of the Western world for nations to boycott Russia’s economy and, in particular, its lucrative oil, natural gas, and fertilizer industries.

The European Union announced that it would ban most Russian oil imports in May, a move that has had little effect given that Europe continues to import significant quantities of Russian natural gas and Russia has found eager buyers in China and India.

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis in its history, the result of nearly two decades of rule under the Rajapaksa dynasty. The Rajapaksas – current President Gotabaya, his brother and ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and a coterie of dozens of government ministers and other officials belonging to the family – used their power to take out massive predatory loans from China and make the country dependent on food imports with a “green” scheme outlawing chemical fertilizers.

A protest demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The police launched tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protest. A large number of farmers participated in this event. July 06, 2022 Colombo, Sri Lanka (Photo by Thilina Kaluthotage/NurPhoto via Getty)

Sri Lanka’s government had depended on tourism revenue to keep afloat, which dried up after the Chinese coronavirus pandemic began in 2020 and left the country with no way of paying back its debts.

Sri Lanka ran out of foreign currency reserves this year, giving it no way to pay for any imports.

Sri Lankan citizens currently face severe shortages of nearly every basic household good, including food products, fuel for vehicles and cooking, medicine, and school supplies. Citizens also face routine electricity cuts and deaths on long ration lines for gasoline and diesel have become a common occurrence.

“Had a very productive telecon with the [Russian] President, Vladimir Putin,” Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced in a message on Twitter Wednesday.

“While thanking him for all the support extended by his [government] to overcome the challenges of the past, I requested an offer of credit support to import fuel to [Sri Lanka] in defeating the current econ[omic] challenges.”

Rajapaksa said that he had also attempted to convince Putin to allow the Russian airline Aeroflot to return to Sri Lanka, highlighting the importance of tourism to the Sri Lankan economy.

The Russian news agency Tass, citing the Kremlin, reported following the call that the two leaders also discussed “energy, agriculture and transport.” It did not specify what kind of cooperation the two sought in the field of agriculture.

Russia is one of the world’s top exporters of chemical fertilizers – which Rajapaksa previously banned in pursuit of all-organic farming. Rajapaksa called the move a “mistake” in April, a month into the current crisis.

“I feel that the failure to provide chemical fertilizer to farmers was a mistake, we have taken steps to provide that again,” the president promised at the time.

Tass made explicit that Rajapaksa requested the conversation with Putin, not vice versa.

Farmers try to break a police barricade during an anti-government protest demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country’s ongoing economic crisis in Colombo on July 6, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)

Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Wednesday that Sri Lanka has completely run out of oil fuels and has neither the money nor the resources to import any gasoline, diesel, or kerosene until at least July 22. Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara claimed on Thursday, however, that Sri Lanka found a way to ship oil into the country on the week of July 13, “but they could not confirm the date.”

Shortly after Rajapaksa made the conversation with Putin public, multiple Sri Lankan news outlets reported the presence of representatives from an unnamed “Russian oil company” in the country.

Ada Derana, a Sri Lankan news site, observed that the representatives appeared to fly into the island nation from Bahrain, as no direct flights between Moscow and Sri Lanka are currently available. The reports only stated that the men were in the country to meet with government officials but provided no information on any potential agreements or conversations.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, brought back to the role after nationwide protests forced Mahinda Rajapaksa out of the prime minister’s office in May, declared Sri Lanka’s economy a failure shortly after taking office. Mahinda Rajapaksa was the last Rajapaksa family member in his brother’s government to resign besides Gotabaya Rajapaksa; protesters burned down his home shortly after his resignation.

“We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food. Our economy has completely collapsed,” Wickremesinghe told the Sri Lankan Parliament in June. “That is the most serious issue before us today.”

The state-run oil company, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, was particularly challenging to rescue, he noted, because no country wanted to sell oil to Sri Lanka given its outrageous debts.

“Currently, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is $700 million in debt,” he explained. “As a result, no country or organization in the world is willing to provide fuel to us. They are even reluctant to provide fuel for cash.”

Wickremesinghe had described Russia as an option for oil sales previously.

“If we can get from any other sources, we will get from there. Otherwise, [we] may have to go to Russia again,” the prime minister told the Associated Press in June, admitting that “a lot of oil going around” in the country may be Russian, but “sometimes we may not know what oil we are buying.”

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Further Adventures of Patron, the Mine-Sniffing Dog (Jack Russell Breed)

Ukraine's pint-sized hero - Patron the mine-sniffing Jack Russell - gets his own Twitter account where the pup shows off his brave endeavours...and fashion sense!

  • Patron the Jack Russell was recently awarded a medal for valour by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky 
  • He is 'soul and mascot' of group and helps State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES) in clearing explosives
  • Patron was bought to appear in dog shows, but has now detected more than 200 deadly Russian landmines

The world's favourite Ukrainian dog who has been awarded a medal for valour and has 250,000 Instagram followers has now got a Twitter account for his fans to keep up with. 

Patron the two-year-old Jack Russell was recently awarded a medal for valour by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and is the star of billboards symbolising his country's defiance of Vladimir Putin

He is the 'soul and mascot' of the group and helps the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES) in clearing explosives. 

Patron was originally bought to appear in pedigree dog shows, but has detected more than 200 deadly Russian landmines and unexploded bombs. 

He first found fame when Ukraine's State Emergency Service posted a video online of their mascot working in the war-torn northern city of Chernihiv. He received his medal at the presidential palace in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was visiting, looking on.

His owner Mykhailo Iliev is a bomb disposal expert and soon after buying Patron he realised how helpful the dog could be in his work. 

Mykhailo said: 'This is his life, it is all he has known. It is just a matter of chance that we have such a capable dog. He is not a service dog, he is my pet, but he has an amazing nose and is an avid learner. He was meant to be a show dog but his destiny was to save people's lives, not to win prizes.'

From six months, Patron was trained to detect TNT and gunpowder. When he does, he stops rigid and stands with his nose down until Mykhailo and his team approach.

But he can sometimes find his job exhausting. 'Some days he is so tired that he does not eat his evening meal. He comes home, has a drink of water and just crashes out,' says Mykhailo. 'But he always wakes up excited to go again the next day.' 

Patron the two-year-old Jack Russell was recently awarded a medal for valour by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and is the star of billboards symbolising his country's defiance of Vladimir Putin .

Patron the two-year-old Jack Russell was recently awarded a medal for valour by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and is the star of billboards symbolising his country's defiance of Vladimir Putin .

He is the 'soul and mascot' of the group and helps the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES) in clearing explosives. Patron was originally bought to appear in pedigree dog shows, but has detected more than 200 deadly Russian landmines and unexploded bombs.

He is the 'soul and mascot' of the group and helps the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES) in clearing explosives. Patron was originally bought to appear in pedigree dog shows, but has detected more than 200 deadly Russian landmines and unexploded bombs. 

Patron is pictured in a miniature version of Ukrainian folk clothing
He first found fame when Ukraine's State Emergency Service posted a video online of their mascot working in the war-torn northern city of Chernihiv

He first found fame when Ukraine's State Emergency Service posted a video online of their mascot working in the war-torn northern city of Chernihiv

He received his medal at the presidential palace in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was visiting, looking on (pictured)

He received his medal at the presidential palace in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was visiting, looking on (pictured) 

President Zelensky awards medal to mine sniffing dog Patron
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Zelenskiy made the award at a news conference in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Zelenskiy made the award at a news conference in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

His owner Mykhailo Iliev is a bomb disposal expert and soon after buying Patron he realised how helpful the dog could be in his work. Mykhailo said: 'This is his life, it is all he has known. It is just a matter of chance that we have such a capable dog. He is not a service dog, he is my pet, but he has an amazing nose and is an avid learner. He was meant to be a show dog but his destiny was to save people's lives, not to win prizes'

His owner Mykhailo Iliev is a bomb disposal expert and soon after buying Patron he realised how helpful the dog could be in his work. Mykhailo said: 'This is his life, it is all he has known. It is just a matter of chance that we have such a capable dog. He is not a service dog, he is my pet, but he has an amazing nose and is an avid learner. He was meant to be a show dog but his destiny was to save people's lives, not to win prizes'

From six months, Patron was trained to detect TNT and gunpowder. When he does, he stops rigid and stands with his nose down until Mykhailo and his team approach

From six months, Patron was trained to detect TNT and gunpowder. When he does, he stops rigid and stands with his nose down until Mykhailo and his team approach

But he can sometimes find his job exhausting. 'Some days he is so tired that he does not eat his evening meal. He comes home, has a drink of water and just crashes out,' says Mykhailo. 'But he always wakes up excited to go again the next day.'

But he can sometimes find his job exhausting. 'Some days he is so tired that he does not eat his evening meal. He comes home, has a drink of water and just crashes out,' says Mykhailo. 'But he always wakes up excited to go again the next day.'

Patron poses in his work gear during a quick break on the job in Ukraine

Patron poses in his work gear during a quick break on the job in Ukraine 

Patron is seen standing proudly on bombs that he has found so his team are able to dispose of them safely

Patron is seen standing proudly on bombs that he has found so his team are able to dispose of them safely 

Patron poses in a miniature version of traditional Ukrainian folk clothing while standing next to a mural on some rocks

Patron poses in a miniature version of traditional Ukrainian folk clothing while standing next to a mural on some rocks 

Patron looks elated as he plays with a ball while he's off the clock and not having to focus on finding Russian landmines

Patron looks elated as he plays with a ball while he's off the clock and not having to focus on finding Russian landmines 

The adorable Jack Russell snuggles up in a cosy blanket in the colours of the Ukrainian flag during some downtime from his tiring job

The adorable Jack Russell snuggles up in a cosy blanket in the colours of the Ukrainian flag during some downtime from his tiring job 

Well-trained Patron sits on command while wearing his tiny dog uniform which reads: 'Ukraine DSNS' - The name for the country's State Emergency Service

Well-trained Patron sits on command while wearing his tiny dog uniform which reads: 'Ukraine DSNS' - The name for the country's State Emergency Service 

The lovable dog poses in bed with his paws crossed under a cosy blanket

The lovable dog poses in bed with his paws crossed under a cosy blanket 

Patron is held up for his adoring crowd during the celebration of Children's Day in Lviv, Ukraine, on June 1

Patron is held up for his adoring crowd during the celebration of Children's Day in Lviv, Ukraine, on June 1

A man photographs a mural dedicated to Patron on the facade of a local house in Zaporizhzhia, south-eastern Ukraine

A man photographs a mural dedicated to Patron on the facade of a local house in Zaporizhzhia, south-eastern Ukraine

A recently painted mural in Vidradnyi park in honour of Jack Russell dog, 'Patron', the landmine finder and mascot of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine on June 07

A recently painted mural in Vidradnyi park in honour of Jack Russell dog, 'Patron', the landmine finder and mascot of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine on June 07

Journalists take photos of landmine sniffer dog, Patron, after returning from mine clearance work in the village of Yahidne in Chernihiv region, on June 7

Journalists take photos of landmine sniffer dog, Patron, after returning from mine clearance work in the village of Yahidne in Chernihiv region, on June 7