French and Riviera News Monday 28th February 2022

News

Closure of France’s airspace to Russian planes and airlines - In a tweet published on Sunday, France’s Minister of Transport has announced the “closure of France’s airspace to Russian planes and airlines with immediate effect”. Faced with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, France is finally following in the footsteps of other European countries. From Germany to Sweden via Belgium, Spain, Italy, Poland or Estonia, several countries each in turn announced on Sunday the closure of their airspace to Russian planes.

Macron warns of long war between Russia and Ukraine - Meanwhile speaking at France’s annual agricultural fair on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that “the world must brace for a long war between Russia and Ukraine”.

Defence Council meeting - The Elysee has announced that a new defence council meeting will take place this Monday morning at 11am in the presence of Emmanuel Macron to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Minister armed forces cancels today’s visit to Toulon - Due to the situation in Ukraine, France’s Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly has postponed her visit to Toulon, initially scheduled for today Monday February 28.

Minister of State to Monaco speaks of conflict with Ukraine - Speaking of the conflict in Ukraine, Monaco’s Minister of State Pierre Dartout has said that "Monaco supports all initiatives that would put an end to military operations" adding that the “Principality of Monaco attaches great importance to respect international law, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”. During the interview with local media about the situation Dartout also spoke of the Russian community which is “very established in the Principality”. The Minister of State said that “while there had not yet been any recent exchanges with its members and that it is still premature to make any announcements, the Principality is obliged, given its international commitments, to adopt measures identical to those taken by the European Union”. This is the case, for example, for fund freezes. Dartout concluded by saying that “ministerial decisions have already been taken to freeze assets in the Principality of Monaco.” But that he was not yet able to say, “if this is aimed at residents of Monaco”.

Easing of covid measures - From today Monday 28th February, certain covid measures are to be lifted in France, such as the requirement to wear masks in museums, cinemas and restaurants, however, it will remain compulsory in transport, shops and at work. Also, from today only one test is necessary for vaccinated contact cases.

President of the PACA region confirms support for Macron - Ahead of Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Marseille on Saturday for his first meeting, the president of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region Renaud Muselier has given the Head of State his support for the upcoming presidential elections. In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, Renaud Muselier expressed his belief that the candidacy of "Valérie Pécresse is the death of the Republicans” the party which he left last November. Macron is set to hold his first meeting next Saturday March 5th to launch his campaign.

Bad weekend on the region’s road - It was a bad weekend on the region’s roads after a 70-year-old man was killed and a 50-year-old woman was seriously injured following an accident on the A8 motorway at Antibes. The accident occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning. The cause of is still to be determined, police have opened an investigation. Meanwhile two other people have been injured after a car exited the dual carriage way at La Londe in the Var on Sunday evening. The accident occurred shortly after 8pm. Another incident on the region’s roads this weekend saw a car catch fire on the A8 motorway in the Var. Nobody was injured but traffic was heavily impacted for most of the afternoon on Saturday. And the Chemin de la Sine in Vence was closed completely to traffic in both directions on Sunday following an accident involving a car and a two-wheeler, which resulted in a man in his 60s suffering slight injuries.

Ecstasy discovered in bottles of champagne - Ecstasy has been discovered in bottles of Moët & Chandon champagne. The famous champagne brand says it has been a “victim of trafficking” after the discovery in Germany and the Netherlands of bottles of champagne containing ecstasy, which intoxicated a dozen people and killed one. On the night of Saturday February 12th, a 52-year-old man died in southern Germany after unknowingly drinking a bottle containing ecstasy, or MDMA in a restaurant. Seven other people attending the same evening were ill. Four poisonings have also been identified in the Netherlands, according to Moët & Chandon. The German and Dutch police as well as Europol are investigating the incident and Moët & Chandon ensures that it is collaborating with the authorities.

CEO offers holiday to staff to say thank you - The CEO of a Welsh recruitment company has offered up to 70 members of staff a free holiday for work done during the covid crisis. According to reports, the CEO of the group Recolution Dale Williams is offering an all-expenses trip of four days, as a thank you for work done during the pandemic.

Business

The price of crude has risen this morning and the Russian Rouble has lost 30 percent of its value as Western nations imposed fresh sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. Some Russian banks have been blocked from the SWIFT international payments system leading to the Rouble to slump to a record low of 119 per dollar. Demand for safe havens has boosted bond yields along with the dollar and the yen while the euro fell following the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin had put his nuclear forced on high alert. The spiralling tension has seen crude rise on fears that supplies from the world’s second largest producer could be disrupted with Brent up by 4.3 percent to 102 dollars 14 and West Texas Intermediate up 5 percent at 97 dollars 17.

Asian markets, which rose on the back of Friday’s gains on Wall Street have been volatile this morning while US and European futures have fallen sharply. The move by the United States, the European Union and their allies to cut off a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system is the harshest measure to be imposed on Moscow yet for its invasion of Ukraine. The assets of the Central Russian Bank have also been frozen which will limit Moscow’s ability to access foreign reserves. The Central Bank has appealed for calm amid fears that the new sanctions could cause a run on banks and said that it had the “necessary tools to maintain financial stability and ensure the operational continuity of the financial sector”. A run on Russian banks would entail too many people trying to withdraw money. The central bank has been forced to increase the amount of money being supplied to ATMs with demands for cash reaching their highest level since March 2020. This morning, the European Central Bank has said that several European subsidiaries of Sberbank Russia which is majority owned by the Russian government are failing or likely to fail due to the reputational cost of the invasion of Ukraine.

The UK is fast-tracking new laws to target money-laundering by Russian oligarchs. As part of the measures, foreign property owners will be required to declare their identities rather than using shell companies as a façade. The development follows economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week. The aim of the new laws is to stop foreign criminals and oligarchs from using agents to create companies or buy property for them in the UK. Companies House is also to get new powers to obtain information about firms to increase corporate transparency.

Sport

Football - Liverpool have won the first domestic silverware of the English season after beating Chelsea on penalties in the League Cup Final at Wembley. The score was tied at 0-0 after extra time although both teams had had the ball in the back of the net only for the goals to be ruled out for offside. The penalty shoot out took place inside an electric Wembley and had got to 11-11 before the Chelsea goalkeeper missed the vital spot kick to give Liverpool the Cup.

There was one game in the English Premier League on Sunday. West Ham beat Wolves 1-0.

Rugby Union - France are still on course to pull off the Grand Slam after beating Scotland 36-17 in the Six Nations Championship on Saturday to stay top of the table. England beat Wales 23-19 at Twickenham while on Sunday Ireland thrashed Italy 57-6 in Dublin. There are no games next weekend with Wales hosting France on Friday the 11th of March and Italy against Scotland and England against Ireland on Saturday the 12th.

Cricket - New Zealand look like they’re heading to defeat at stumps on day 4 of the second Test against South Africa in Christchurch. The home side are batting in their second innings and had reached 87-4 chasing an unlikely target of 399 to win the match.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate westerly winds across the Var. Top temperature 16 degrees. Overnight lows of 8-10 degrees in coastal areas and 3-5 degrees inland with clear skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Clear skies with a high of 13 degrees.

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