JUST IN: Putin places Russia’s nuclear weapons squad on high alert

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his country’s nuclear weapons squad to be on high alert.

Mr Putin, in a televised address Sunday, said Western countries have imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia that were “illegitimate.”

“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly economic actions against our country, but leaders of major NATO countries are making aggressive statements about our country. So I order to move Russia’s deterrence forces to a special regime of duty,” Mr Putin said as transcribed by Max Seddon of the Financial Times.

The sanctions followed Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, triggering a humanitarian crisis in that hitherto peaceful country. Ukrainians have continued to resist the Russians’ attempts to take over their country, dragging the war into a fourth day in a surprise to the rest of the world.

Russian military generals, including Sergey Shoygu, flanked Mr Putin during the address.
Source – Peoples Gazette



Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Nigeria To Pay Higher Fuel Subsidy Amid Rising Oil Prices, Debts

The escalating war between Russia and Ukraine has sent oil prices to new highs, with the Bonny Light breaking the $100 per barrel resistance level on February 24 for the first time since 2014.

As the United States and European allies of Ukraine threaten to tighten sanctions on Russia, oil traders are concerned about the prospect of supply in a market where demand is rising rapidly, as factories and broader economies open up to recover from the doldrums of COVID-19 restrictions.

Oil importers such as South Africa and Kenya are groaning as rising crude oil price sends the price of petrol, and by extension, other consumer good prices higher, escalating the current inflationary pressures in those countries, Daily Trust reports.

However, members of the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) seem to be excited about the bullish rally in oil price as it gives hope of higher fiscal revenue, which may help to partly bridge budget deficits.

Paradoxically, Nigeria may be worse off as higher oil prices mean more subsidy payments for the government. Unlike its OPEC peers, Nigeria imports all of its refined petroleum products, mainly through “opaque” transactions coordinated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, which puts the country’s daily consumption of petrol at 93million litres during peak periods.

With President Muhammadu Buhari reversing an earlier decision to halt petrol subsidy for genuine or otherwise reasons, he had to send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly a fortnight ago, seeking an additional N2.55trillion provision for fuel subsidy at a time when the crude oil price was lower at $95 per barrel.

Contrary to the positive vibes amongst OPEC members, Nigeria seems to be a net loser in the oil price equation. First, oil production has been very weak, on an average of 1.6million barrels per day, a level below OPEC quota and far behind the 1.88mbpd benchmark in the 2022 budget.

This reality reflects the poor investment in the sector over the past decade, a phenomenon that exacerbates the structural and communal issues of insecurity and theft, which continue to undermine the country’s oil output.

More importantly, the country’s shameful import of refined products exposes it to the vagaries of the volatile market, even as it paradoxically fixes the retail price of the imported refined products, a fiscal policy that means the government has to bear the burden of the higher crude oil price.

No wonder the country’s external reserve has shrunk almost $1billion or 1.7 per cent year-to-date at a time when the oil price has rallied over 40 per cent. So, as oil price rises, Nigeria paradoxically counts its woes.
Source – Sahara Reporters



Russian Invasion: How Nigerians Narrowly Escaped Being Burnt In Ukraine

Several Nigerians trying to cross from Ukraine into neighbouring countries have further narrated their ordeal in the hands of Ukrainian security operatives and the near-impossible task of crossing into other countries.

Some of the Nigerians who spoke to SaharaReporters said some officials labelled them as Russians and almost burnt them to death but for the intervention of some policemen.

“They said we are Russians. This is really getting out of hand. We almost got burnt yesterday, on our way from Lviv to Uzhgorod. It was a policeman that saved the situation,” one of them said.

“We are not allowed into Slovakia. We can get a flight home from Slovakia. Most of our phones are dead. The current situation is that you are denied entry into Slovakia. Someone who managed to enter Slovakia in the middle of the night said no one from Nigeria had reached out to them,” another Nigerian lamented.

“We are denied exit from Ukraine. At Uzhgorod city (border between Ukraine and Slovakia),” another stranded Nigerian said.

SaharaReporters earlier reported that hundreds of Nigerians and other nationals were currently freezing at locations around the Ukraine border after security officials refused to allow them entry into neighbouring countries.

The Nigerian government had on Saturday listed four borders in Ukraine where its citizens seeking to leave the country could be evacuated.

SaharaReporters was however told on Sunday that people could not move out and Nigerians were already freezing at the borders.

“They are not allowing us to leave the Ukrainian border. They are only evacuating their people to Slovak. We are stuck in Uzhgorod just before we enter Slovak. Can’t type much; we will walk into Slovak; the Ukrainian soldiers should just let us leave,” a Nigerian had lamented.

“They are not doing any paperwork here. They are taking most of their people. Out of like 200 people, we are the only blacks,” another victim said.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) had stated on Saturday that the borders are Hrebenne-Rawa Ruska, Korczowa-Krakowiec, Medyka-Szeginie and Budomierz-Hurszew.

“For Nigerians in Ukraine trying to cross over to Poland, there are eight borders between Poland and Ukraine, four borders are recommended,” she had said.

“Nigeria volunteer groups, as well as staff of the Nigerian embassy, will be at these borders to help you out. We are going to provide contact details of these Nigerians that will be there to help you out and the convergence point.”

The Embassy of Nigeria in Warsaw, Poland, in a public notice, had said officials and volunteers would be at the Polish-Ukrainian borders to pick up Nigerians.

It had therefore advised Nigerians crossing over to Poland to present 02-953, Kosiarzy 22B, 02-956 Warszawa as the destination address to the border officials.

“In light of the recent happenings in Ukraine; please be advised that for all Nigerians crossing over to Poland would have us waiting for them,” it said.

When SaharaReporters called the spokesperson for NIDCOM, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, for comments over the current plight of Nigerian nationals in Ukraine, he said the foreign ministry was working with relevant authorities to get help for stranded Nigerians.

The message reads, “IMPORTANT INFORMATION: The Nigerian Embassy in Romania wishes to inform Nigerians arriving from Ukraine that arrangement has been put in place to receive them at the Romanian entry points.

“The Embassy hotlines are:

Consular Officer +40747309174

Head of Chancery +40786091964.

“For those experiencing difficulties at the borders, Our Minister, His Excellency @GeoffreyOnyeama is currently engaging high authorities and the Organization for Migration to assist.”
Source – Sahara Reporters