French and Riviera News Thursday 3rd March 2022


Russian invasion of Ukraine - Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine since the end of last week, regional authorities have witnessed a large influx of several hundred people a day arriving from Ukraine either by car or on-board buses at the La Turbie motorway paytoll. France has coordinated with other EU States in welcoming refugees. Locally the Var prefecture has been in touch with the mayors of the department to identify accommodation and support for Ukrainian families fleeing the war. A page dedicated to the Ukrainian crisis has been created on the website of the Var prefecture, Meanwhile, the Alpes-Maritimes has announced that it can repatriate and house 1,000 Ukrainian refugees. 130 Ukrainian refugees are expected to arrive in Marseille. Reports say they will travel from Poland by coach and will arrive tomorrow Friday 4th March. A recently formed Ukraine solidarity association is aiming to initially house them with local hosts.

Televised speech from President Macron - On Wednesday evening French President Emmanuel Macron gave a televised speech on the situation in Ukraine denouncing “the brutal attack launched by President Putin against Ukraine” and adding that “France stands alongside Ukraine”. The Head of State went on to say that “everything had been done to try and avoid this conflict” but that the decision was made “alone by Vladimir Putin” and it echoes “revenge”. Macron said that neither France, nor Europe nor NATO “wanted this war”. He also claimed to have chosen to stay in touch with President Putin. In particular to “prevent the spread of the conflict”.

Submarine cables – Meanwhile French media has reported on the threat which hangs over submarine cables which connect the continents to the Internet. France’s armed forces have reportedly envisaged the nightmare scenario of a “cut which would cause a blackout”.  After 7 days of war between Russia and Ukraine the threats are intensifying and the country's allies of Kiev are on alert. In addition to a nuclear threat, there is that of an Internet "black out" with the cutting of transatlantic submarine cables. In a recent interview Jean-Luc Vuillemin, director of international networks at Orange, recalled that in the event of a power cut, there would simply be no more European internet as 99% of the global network passes through these cables.

In other news

Financing of new rail line will see increase in local taxes - Local taxes look set to increase in order to finance the new rail line for the Provence Côte d’Azur. Half of the 1.4 billion euros which is required from the local authorities will be financed by a specific local tax. The agreement was signed by President Macron on Wednesday March 2nd, creating the local public establishment responsible for raising the funds to finance the project which is to create a new link between Marseille and Nice.

French journalist Jean-Pierre Pernaut dies - French journalist and presenter Jean Pierre Pernaut has died at the age of 71. Pernaut was the emblematic presenter of TF1 JT 13hr. He had been battling lung cancer. He joined TF1 when it was created in 1975 and became one of France’s most popular journalists.

E.Leclerc confirms status as the brand with the lowest prices - According to a new survey carried out by UFC-Que Choisir the E.Leclerc supermarket confirms its status in France as the brand with the lowest prices. Large retailers have multiplied marketing operations in recent months, due to inflation. The survey compared the prices of 98 national brand and distributor products in 1,006 stores of the eight main players in the sector including Auchan, Carrefour, Casino, Intermarché and Système U. The survey also showed a significant difference in prices depending on the region. With consumers in the west of France such as Brittany and the Pays de la Loire paying less then not surprisingly other regions, such as Paris and the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur where prices are the highest.

Football – OGC Nice are to face Nantes in the final of the French Cup after Monaco lost to Nantes last night on penalties. The match was marked by some over-enthusiastic supporters of Nantes throwing objects onto the pitch just 25 minutes into the game, with the threat of the match being suspended. The canaries will now aim to win the cup for the fourth time on May 8th at the Stade de France when they face Nice.


US President Joe Biden has said that additional forces are to be authorised to go to Germany but has stressed that American soldiers will not fight in Ukraine. Mr Biden also said that even tougher sanctions would be imposed on Russia including on banks and technology imports but would not involve oil and gas or the SWIFT international banking system. Investors appear to be relieved by what the sanctions did not involve with analysts saying that markets are reacting in a familiar way to a military incursion with stocks selling off sharply in the run-up to the invasion but recovering once “tanks start rolling across borders”. Technology stocks were popular on Wall Street on Wednesday following a sharp sell off ahead of the invasion.

Oil prices fell back on Wednesday but are up again this morning while the dollar strengthened again and gold was lower. The price of oil has spiked higher again this morning in a rush for resources as fears grow over the direction of global inflation. Brent crude has soared to 117 dollars, up 20 percent this week so far while there were steep rises in the price of gas, coal and aluminium. Russia supplies around 30 percent of Europe’s oil and gas imports and accounts for 11 percent of global crude supplies.

US stock futures are flat so far today while JP Morgan has issued a stark warning for clients advising them to be “underweight in the Euro area both in currencies and equities” owning to Europe’s vulnerability to any escalation in the Ukraine war. European bonds have surrendered some of their hefty gains in recent weeks after data showed that eurozone inflation hit a record 5.8 percent in January making it hard for the European Central Bank to maintain loose monetary policy. In the United States, the chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell has said that interest rates would only be likely to increase by 25 basis points this month because of a “highly uncertain” outlook.

Economists are debating whether current sky-high oil prices will result in a global recession. Professor Andrew Oswald from the UKs University of Warwick says that almost every post-war recession has been preceded by a rise in oil prices. The cost of crude rose sharply in 1973, 1979, 1990 and 2007 and all those years were followed by recessions although in some cases energy was not the only cause. The Guardian newspaper reports that three factors will determine the hit to Western economies over the coming months. Whether energy continues to flow, the size and duration of higher oil prices and how central banks will respond. The chair of the Federal Reserve has said that the Ukraine crisis will not “derail” plans to start raising interest rates while the Bank of England is also likely to tighten policy further. It’s still not clear what plans the European Central Bank has but its likely that rates will have to rise sooner or later. The big question is how far and how fast rates will increase. One risk is that central banks do too little but an even bigger risk is that they do too much.


Football - The owner of Chelsea Roman Abramovich has confirmed that he’s selling the club. Mr Abramovich who has been connected with corrupt practices and being close to Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it had been an “incredibly hard decision” to sell Chelsea adding that it “pains” him. He is writing off some 1.5 billion pounds in loans to the club and said that proceeds from the sale which is reported to be in the region of 3 billion pounds would be “donated to charity”. The Russian oligarch has been coming under increasing pressure over his reported close ties with the Kremlin which he denies. He isn’t facing any sanctions at the moment but there are increasing calls for his assets to be frozen.

In the FA Cup last night Chelsea managed to forget their off-field problems to move through to the quarter finals following a hard-fought 3-2 win at Luton Town. Southampton beat West Ham 2-1 and Liverpool beat Norwich 2-1. There’s one more tie tonight. Everton play non-league Boreham Wood.

In the Scottish Premiership last night the leaders Celtic beat St Mirren 2-0, Dundee and Hibs drew 0-0, Hearts beat Aberdeen 2-0, Livingston beat Dundee United 2-1, Ross County were 1-0 winners at Motherwell and Rangers beat St Johnstone 1-0 away.

Formula 1 - The UK Motorsport Authority has banned Russian drivers from competing in events in Britain because of the invasion of Ukraine. The decision means that Nikita Mazepin won’t be able to compete at the British Grand Prix in July. The sport’s governing body the FIA has said that Russian and Belarussian drivers can compete in the new Formula 1 season but only in a neutral capacity.

Olympics - A report in the New York Times has alleged that China told Russia not to invade Ukraine during the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. The paper says that an intelligence report indicated that some Chinese officials had knowledge about Russia’s plans and Beijing had requested that Moscow hold off until the games had finished. A Chinese government spokesman said that the report was “speculation”.

Meanwhile, there’s been a backlash from athletes following a decision by the International Paralympic Committee to allow Russian athletes to compete at the Beijing games despite the global outcry over the invasion of Ukraine. 72 Russian athletes will be able to take part as “neutral competitors” but their results will not be counted in the medals table. Some other nations including the UK have criticised the decision and there may be some boycotts at the Games which start this weekend.


Partially cloudy with moderate easterly winds. Top temperature 14 degrees. Overnight lows of 6-8 degrees in coastal areas and 3-5 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Sunshine and showers with highs of 10-13 degrees.

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