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he three European leaders are now visiting Irpin, a town near Kyiv which Russian troops brutally occupied at the beginning of the war.

Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi are being briefed on what went on in the city, and work being done to get life back to normal.

“It’s a heroic city, marked by the stigmata of barbarism,” Macron tells reporters.

Irpin is on the doorstep of Kyiv, and in early March Russian troops intent on conquering the capital took hold of the town.

Its blown-up bridge and river crossing became known internationally as a risky escape route from next-door Bucha, the scene of many of Russia’s alleged war crimes.

In Irpin itself, the bodies of 290 civilian victims were found.

Read more about Irpin’s month of terror.

European leaders in Irpin

Two of Mike Pence’s past advisers will testify on Thursday that the former US vice-president came under significant pressure to overturn the 2020 election results in favour of his boss Donald Trump. Greg Jacob and Michael Luttig, who gave legal advice to Pence while in office, will appear in front of the congressional committee investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol in the third in a series of public sessions. Committee officials said the hearing would focus on how former president Trump and his allies allegedly put pressure on Pence to reject the election results from certain states where his opponent Joe Biden had won. They also suggested they would show that such behaviour could classify as a criminal offence. One committee aide said: “We’re going to focus on the pressure campaign on former vice-president Pence, driven by the former president, even as advice was swirling around the White House, saying that the scheme was illegal.” They added: “We’re going to show that that pressure campaign directly contributed to the attack on the Capitol, and that it put the vice-president’s life in danger.” The hearing on Thursday, scheduled for 1pm EST, will be the third in a week, as members of the bipartisan panel lay out their findings to voters for the first time. The second session focused on election night itself, and how Trump insisted the vote had been rigged despite the advice of many of his inner circle. Thursday’s hearing will focus instead on the way in which John Eastman, one of Trump’s lawyers, allegedly argued that Pence should not formally certify Biden’s electoral victory during a Senate session on January 6. It was that session that protesters were trying to interrupt when they stormed the building in what became a riot. Committee officials said they would show that Eastman’s legal argument was wrong, and that Trump’s repeated promotion of it helped lead to the violence on that day. They also suggested this could even lead to charges against Eastman. In a video preview of the hearing, a clip shows former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann recalling telling Eastman the day after January 6: “Get a great effing criminal defence lawyer, you’re going to need it.” Recommended News in-depthUS Capitol attack ‘Historically unprecedented’ January 6 hearing damning for Trump Meanwhile the committee continues to battle with Barry Loudermilk, the Republican representative from Georgia, over whether he should testify in front of the committee. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the committee, wrote to Loudermilk on Thursday urging him to provide information about a tour of Congress he appeared to give the day before the riot to someone who they believe went on to take part in the march.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.

We’re going to put this blog to bed now. Thanks all for your comments, correspondence, (and occasional condescension (you know who you are)).

Before I go, a summary of the major developments today:

  • The immediate risk of electricity shortages across Australia has receded a little. The Australian Energy Market Operator says reserves have improved, but that it is still “too early to say” when market will return to normal;
  • Australia recorded 73 Covid deaths, including a child aged under three in South Australia;
  • But the country could see 15,000 Covid deaths in 2022, a level “way too high” according to a leading epidemiologist;
  • Long-serving Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz was not re-elected to the Senate, ending a 28-year parliamentary career;
  • Foreign minister Penny Wong says Australia has “ground to make up” in the Pacific region;
  • The national jobless rate remained steady at 3.9%.

With fresh coats of paint and streets swept clean, Rwanda’s capital is preparing for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, which will bring leaders of the 54-nation group of mostly former British colonies whose relevance is sometimes questioned.

President Paul Kagame will host Prince Charles, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scores of world leaders in a glittering summit, which takes place between June 20 and 25, that he hopes will promote this East African country’s standing.

The summit is an opportunity to highlight Rwanda’s stability and relative prosperity under Kagame’s rule. It also will focus attention on Rwanda’s widely criticized deal with Britain to deport asylum-seekers from the U.K. to Rwanda. Legal challenges stopped a flight that would have brought the first group just days before the summit.

The Commonwealth is a bloc of many developing nations but includes richer ones such as Singapore and Australia. Members range from established democracies such as Canada to more authoritarian ones like Rwanda itself.

Germany’s vice chancellor is stepping up an appeal for the country’s residents to save energy after Russia’s Gazprom announced significant cuts in natural gas deliveries through a key pipeline.

State-owned Gazprom announced on Tuesday that it was cutting gas flows through the undersea Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 40%, then, a day later, announced a further cut that brings the overall reduction to about 60%.

In both cases, it cited a technical problem, saying that Canadian sanctions over the war in Ukraine prevented German partner Siemens Energy from delivering equipment that had been sent for overhaul. The German government rejected that reasoning, saying that maintenance shouldn’t have been an issue until the fall and the Russian decision was a political gambit to sow uncertainty and push up prices.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “is doing what was to be feared from the beginning: He is reducing the volume of gas, not in one go but step by step,” German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said in a video posted by his ministry on Twitter Wednesday night. He pointed to earlier Russian moves to cut supplies to Bulgaria, Denmark and others.

The reduction in gas flows comes as Germany and the rest of Europe try to reduce their dependence on Russian energy imports. Germany, which has Europe’s biggest economy, gets about 35% of its gas to power industry and generate electricity from Russia.

Habeck, who is also the economy minister, already had launched a campaign for people to save energy last week. After the Gazprom announcements, he hammered home the message in Wednesday night’s video.

“Gas is coming to Europe — we have no supply problem, but the volumes of gas must be acquired on the market and it will get more expensive,” Habeck said. He said the government is prepared, and noted that it has enacted legislation requiring gas storage to be filled.

He lauded the willingness of Germans and business to save energy and store gas.

“Now is the time to do so,” he said. “Every kilowatt hour helps in this situation. It is a situation that is serious, but not a situation that endangers supply security in Germany.”

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