Author: Looys Martel

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall plans to set up at least four factories in Ukraine to produce artillery shells, military vehicles, gunpowder, and anti-aircraft weapons, the AFP reported on March 14. This could present a boost for Ukrainian defense production amid ammunition shortages and dwindling supplies from the U.S. “Ukraine is now an important partner for us, where we see a potential of between 2 and 3 billion euros ($2.18-$3.27 billion) per year,” Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger said during a presentation of the company’s 2023 results, the AFP wrote. Previously, the company signed a contract with the Ukrainian Defense Industry (Ukroboronprom) in October 2023 to…

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A Pole, a German, a Frenchmen, and a Swiss meet in a bar, or was it a Swiss, a French, a German, and a Slovak, I forgot. However, what otherwise sounded like the beginning of a quirky joke was in fact an informal luncheon by some of the brightest analysts of the European Union in early December last year. Nationalities aside, the topic of the lunch was, of course, the Ukraine. The basic question was simple, Are We at War? Will Russia win? What’s the consequence for Europe if Russia wins? What is the European Union willingness to defend the…

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The number of antisemitic acts registered in France and Belgium have risen sharply since Hamas’ attack on Israel triggered the war in Gaza The number of antisemitic acts registered in France and Belgium rose sharply since Hamas’ attack on Israel triggered the war in Gaza, according to figures released Thursday in both countries. In France, data from the Interior ministry and the Jewish Community Protection Service watchdog showed that 1,676 antisemitic acts were reported in 2023, compared to 436 the previous year. According to the Council of Jewish Institutions in France — the country’s main Jewish interest group — the number of…

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Dmitry Peskov added that the Kremlin is aware of the declarations by French officials who claim that they “cannot do anything” about the issue The Kremlin insists it has reliable information about the presence of French mercenaries in Ukraine, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. He added that Paris should do more to better ensure that French citizens stay out of harm’s way. “We still insist that we are in possession of reliable information about the presence of French nationals in Ukraine, French mercenaries <…> and [we] believe that they [the French government] should take much better care of their…

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The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has announced she is quitting X, formerly Twitter, calling it a “gigantic global sewer” that is “destroying our democracies” by spreading abuse and misinformation. After buying Twitter in 2022, the billionaire Elon Musk laid off thousands of employees, including many who moderated content on the platform. Rebranded as X, it has lost several major advertisers and has been criticised, including by the White House, for not doing enough to curtail antisemitism. “I have made the decision to leave Twitter,” Hidalgo wrote in lengthy posts in English and French on Monday, citing manipulation, disinformation, antisemitism…

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The French interior minister has called for the dissolution of three extreme-right groups after a series of marches were organised in response to the killing of a 16-year-old in the south-east of the country. Gérald Darmanin told France Inter broadcaster he was seeking to shut down Division Martel and two other groups he did not name, warning there was a risk of militias targeting people of different skin-colour. Thomas, a 16-year-old rugby player, died from stab wounds after a dance party at a village hall in Crépol in the Drôme, in south-eastern France, on 19 November. Nine people believed to…

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France is to ban smoking on all beaches, as well as in public parks, forests and near schools, after Emmanuel Macron promised to create “the first tobacco-free generation” by 2032. “From now on, no-smoking areas will be the norm,” said the health minister, Aurélien Rousseau. There are already 7,200 tobacco-free areas in France – including in Nice, on the French Riviera, which was the first to establish a cigarette-free beach in 2012 with the approval of France’s League Against Cancer. The government said that instead of smoke-free areas being decided by individual local authorities, central government would introduce a nationwide…

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French authorities have arrested the leader of a multinational tantric yoga organisation on suspicion of indoctrinating women for sexual exploitation. The Romanian guru was detained on Tuesday morning during a major police operation across the Paris region, according to a French judicial official, who was not authorised to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation. The French official identified the man as Gregorian B, whom French media identified as Gregorian Bivolaru, 71, an internationally known yoga teacher and author. The investigation into Bivolaru and his yoga federation, the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (Misa), began after reports of psychological…

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For more than 30 years, the parents of British student Joanna Parrish have battled for justice for their daughter, murdered by the French serial killer Michel Fourniret in 1990. Often, when the killer was still unidentified and at large, Roger Parrish and his ex-wife Pauline would travel to northern Burgundy looking for clues, appealing for witnesses, badgering seemingly insouciant investigators to do their job, seeking answers they never found. Fourinet, known as the “Ogre of the Ardennes”, was eventually caught and jailed for life in 2008 for the murder of seven other girls and young women. It was another decade…

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French far-right politician Marine Le Pen will stand trial alongside 27 others over alleged misuse of EU funds, the Paris prosecutor’s office said on Friday, charges that Le Pen’s party said it contested. Twenty-eight defendants will be brought to court, including Le Pen and her father, Jean-Marie, the office said, confirming French media reports. An initial pre-trial hearing scheduled for 27 March next year will be followed by a more in-depth hearing during October and November. The investigation, opened in 2016, aimed to ascertain whether the then National Front had used money destined for EU parliamentary assistants to pay staff who were working…

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