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UKRAINE

Austrian chancellor leaves to visit Ukraine

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Friday left to travel to Kyiv, according to his office, one of the first EU leaders to visit Ukraine after images of corpses in the town of Bucha came to light.

Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer walks past an Austrian flag wearing a mask. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP
Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer walks past an Austrian flag wearing a mask. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

“Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer left this evening for his visit to Ukraine,” the chancellory said in a statement.

Nehammer indicated earlier in the week he would visit Ukraine.

READ MORE: Austria’s Nehammer to visit Zelensky in Ukraine

Nehammer’s visit comes as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Bucha on Friday on a trip to Ukraine along with the bloc’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell.

Nehammer is expected to travel to Bucha, near Kyiv, on Saturday, according to a statement from his office.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russian troops of being behind the killings in the town, but the Kremlin has denied any responsibility and suggested images of corpses were “fakes”.

“Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer left this evening for his visit to Ukraine with a delegation and media representatives,” the chancellory said.

Besides visiting Bucha, Nehammer is planning to meet Zelensky followed by a press conference and a meeting with Prime Minister Denys Shmygal on Saturday.

He is also planning to meet Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko before returning later Saturday.

“It is important that, within the framework of our neutrality, we support Ukraine on both a humanitarian and a political level,” Nehammer said in a statement.

“What is happening in Ukraine, and in particular in many cities of Ukraine, is a terrible war of aggression against the civilian population,” he said.

He said that independent and international experts should get to the bottom of “the war crimes that have come to light”.

“Those responsible for these crimes must and will be held accountable,” he said. Violence in the town of Bucha, where authorities say hundreds were killed — including some found with their hands bound — has become a byword for allegations of brutality inflicted under Russian occupation.

The Czech, Polish and Slovenian prime ministers visited Kyiv on March 15, before Russian troops withdrew from around the capital, in the first trip by European Union leaders since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.

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ENERGY

Russia suspends gas to Italy after ‘problem’ in Austria

Russia's Gazprom has suspended gas deliveries to Italy's Eni, blaming a transport problem in Austria, the Italian energy giant said on Saturday.

Russia suspends gas to Italy after 'problem' in Austria

“Gazprom told us that it was not able to confirm the delivery of the volumes demanded for today, citing the impossibility of gas transport through Austria,” Eni said in a statement.

As a result, “Russian gas flows to Eni via the Tarvisio entry point will be naught”, it said.

In a statement published on Telegram, Gazprom said the problem was due to regulatory changes in Austria that took place at the end of September and that it was working with Italian customers to resolve the issue.

According to Gazprom, the Austrian gas grid operator had refused to confirm the transport nominations.

In Austria, regulatory authority E-Control said the new rules, which entered into force on Saturday, had been “known to all market actors for months”.

It said it expected “all to conform and take the necessary measures to fulfil their obligations”.

The problems were related to “contractual details” linked to the transit of gas towards Italy, it said on Twitter, adding in response to a tweeted question that this currently had “no effect” on users in Austria.

Most of Russian gas delivered to Italy passes via Ukraine through the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline (TAG), to Tarvisio in northern Italy on the border with Austria.

Before the war in Ukraine, Italy imported 95 percent of the gas it consumes — about 45 percent of which came from Russia.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi has signed new deals with other gas producers to reduce Italy’s reliance on Russia, lowered to 25 percent as of June, while accelerating a shift towards renewable energies.

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