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Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during their meeting in Budapest.

Reuters.

What We're Watching: Hungarian holdout, hope in Shanghai, US troops return to Somalia

Is Hungary holding the EU “hostage”?

The European Commission is pushing hard for a bloc-wide ban on Russian oil imports. But one member state — Hungary — has gone rogue and is holding up the embargo. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, Lithuania’s representative accused Hungary of holding the bloc “hostage,” after PM Viktor Orbán demanded that Brussels dole out hundreds of millions of dollars to offset losses from moving away from cheap Russian fossil fuels. Orbán is buddies with Vladimir Putin and has been trying to expand Hungary’s economic relationship with the Kremlin in recent months, so he is driving a hard bargain, saying that ditching Russian oil would be an “atomic bomb” for his country’s economy. Landlocked Hungary relies on Russia for around 45% of its total oil imports, and finding alternative sources could lead to shortages and price hikes at a time when Hungarians are already grappling with sky-high inflation. Still, Brussels says Budapest is being greedy because Hungary has already been given a longer window — until the end of 2024 — to phase out Russian imports. But Orbán is hoping to get more concessions ahead of a big EU summit on May 30, when the bloc aims to find a political solution to this stalemate.

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EU & India Restart Relationship and Trade Negotiations | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

EU and India restart relationship and trade negotiations

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from London.

What was the significance of Indian Prime Minister Modi's tour in Europe?

I think it was important. There is an attempt to restart the relationship primarily between the European Union and India. Ursula von der Leyen was in Delhi and now Modi has been to Berlin. He has met all of the Nordic prime ministers. He was in Paris. There has been a restart of trade negotiations, always difficult with India. And there's been setting up the Trade and Technology Council between India and the EU. It could be something, remains to be seen.

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Models of oil barrels seen in front of a "stop" sign and the EU and Russia flag colors.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Will the EU oil ban hurt Russia?

In what would be Europe’s boldest move yet to punish Russia for invading Ukraine, the European Commission on Wednesday unveiled a plan to ditch all oil imports from Russia in the coming months.

The proposal is part of a broader set of sanctions that would also cut SWIFT access for Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and ban Russian state broadcasters from operating in the EU.

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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We're Watching: Pelosi in Kyiv, Indian scorcher, Modi tours Europe

Pelosi visits Ukraine — will Biden go next?

Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-level US official to visit Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion. Pelosi met with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday amid growing pressure from Kyiv for President Joe Biden to travel to the country, which Zelensky feels would be a symbolic show of US support for Ukraine. Biden has so far been non-committal, but Pelosi's trip is arguably more significant at this time, given that Biden wants the US Congress to approve $33 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. Meanwhile, a long-awaited operation was underway to evacuate 100,000 people trapped in a steel plant in Mariupol, the only part of the besieged Ukrainian port city not yet occupied by the Russians. The UN is coordinating safe passage with the Red Cross for the evacuees to reach Zaporizhzhia.

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Macron Needs to Secure Parliamentary Majority | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Macron's reelection and the future of France

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from New Delhi, India.

What's the number one challenge for President Macron now, when he's been reelected?

First, of course, he has been reelected. That's highly important. He's the first French president to be reelected for a second term in 20 years. That's quite an achievement. But he now needs to secure some sort of parliamentary majority, and that election is coming up in a couple of weeks. That's going to be critical for all of his domestic reform agenda, which remains critical for the future of France.

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French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he arrives to deliver a speech after being re-elected as president.

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Can Macron unite a divided France?

Reflecting on Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France's presidential runoff, Tom McTague, writing for The Atlantic, referred to British PM Winston Churchill’s disdain for another French leader: Charles de Gaulle. Churchill was asked if de Gaulle was a great man. “He is selfish, he is arrogant, he believes he is the center of the world,” Churchill replied. “You are quite right. He is a great man.”

“Something similar might be true of Emmanuel Macron,” wrote McTague.

Macron can afford to be smug about some of his achievements. After all, he is the first French president to win a second term in some 20 years – the French are famous for rejecting incumbents. The 44-year-old centrist, a former banker, has only run for elected office twice – for the presidency in 2017 and 2022 – and he clinched the top job both times.

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Macron celebrates his victory during a rally at the Champ de Mars in Paris.

JB Autissier/Panoramic

Macron beats Le Pen, encore

Sometimes the polls aren’t wrong. On Sunday, centrist French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right hopeful Marine Le Pen in a rerun of their 2017 presidential runoff.

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Macron Likely to Win French Presidential Election | Ukraine Aid | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

France's presidential election tightening as first round begins

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Delphi, Greece:

What's happening with the sanctions and help to Ukraine?

Well, it's moving forward quite heavily, both with now deliveries of more substantial weapons systems, and the key thing, of course, is going to be what happens with the imports of gas if that is stopped. Coal, oil, that's less important, but gas, that's the key thing. And I think we are moving in that direction.

What about the French presidential elections?

Well, we got the first round coming up on Sunday. I think Macron is going to win, but it looks like it's going to be tight. And the drama is going to be more substantial prior to the second decisive round on 25th of April. It's still likely to be Macron, but less money on that than was the case a month ago.

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