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Alex Saab. Unidentified businessman who can tell the secrets of Venezuela in the US from Maduro – Observer

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Ryan Berg, leader of the Venezuelan Initiative of the Future Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), concludes the portrait with the Observer: creates shell companies to circumvent the architecture of the sanctions imposed on Venezuela“. If so, and he faces a 30-year prison sentence, will Saab negotiate with the court and share what he knows about the Maduro regime?

Alex Saab was born in Barranquilla and started his business in 1995, starting the company to try to expand the towel business of his Lebanese father who settled in Colombia in the 1950s. Second or Country, ended up setting up his own merchandising company for supermarkets and gas stations, which however went bankrupt in 2009. It was there that he met the Venezuelan businessman Alvaro Pulido, with whom he started a number of enterprises associated with Caracas, and became close to the authorities.

In his book, Gerardo Reyes shows how important Saab has become to the regime: “His friends cannot explain how such an ordinary and banal type, with modest aspirations and passions other than love for children, became the financial jackal of the Bolivarian revolution,” writes the journalist Univision … “If Venezuela didn’t have enough milk, we started calling Saab. In the event of a shortage of fuel, he was called to resolve the situation “, illustrated by Reyes in an interview with El País

It is about his role as a fundamental entrepreneur in creating so-called CLAP boxes (local supply and production committees) that are part of a food distribution program for the poorest. In practice, this social support mechanism has been used in Venezuela as a political weapon, granting access to CLAP to those with a PSUV card (Madauro’s party) and transferring their control to collectives (armed groups close to the regime). “This is an unfair, militarized and discriminatory process in which in practice only those associated with the government party have access to food,” explained by Observer in 2018 Marianella Herrera, Venezuelan physician specializing in nutrition.

Votes for food. Skinny and malnourished Venezuela goes to vote after “Maduro diet”

According to the US government, CLAP operates through a network of shell companies that buy substandard food in countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Turkey and sell it to the Venezuelan government at inflated prices.… The low quality of food products is evidenced by both the population and the local media – for example, in 2017. ArmandoInfo investigation website analyzed the milk powder available in the cartons and concluded that it was not milk.

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And CLAP isn’t Saab’s only problem. The US Treasury also accuses him of having ties to a scheme for the sale of gold by the Venezuelan government to Turkey through shell companies set up by a businessman… The same conclusion is drawn wool brain center Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which pointed to the creation of a company set up shortly after Maduro’s meeting with the Turkish president, which will transport $ 900 million in gold from Venezuela to Turkey. In return, the country would receive products for its own CLAP boxes.

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30 km advance in Kherson and “significant victory” in Donbass. How did the last victories of the Ukrainian counter-offensive turn out?

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Follow all the news of the war live on the Observer.

The announcement of Russian partial mobilization, the formalization of the annexation of four Ukrainian territories and the threat of the Poseidon nuclear submarine. All these events of recent days show a stronger reaction from Russia and escalation of tension wars in Ukraine. However, almost nothing has changed on the ground since the beginning of September, and Moscow has failed to break Kyiv’s winning streak. Ukrainian troops keep reaching important successes in the counter-offensive in the south of the country and near Lugansk in the east.

It is increasingly likely that Kherson, one of the first cities captured by Russia at the start of the invasion, will soon be back under Ukrainian control. Moscow should not responsiveness strike back soon as the measures recently announced by Vladimir Putin are not yet in effect take a few months until they bring practical effect. For example, with regard to partial mobilization. Soldiers must be trained before they go to the front lines.

Ukraine wants to take advantage of this fact. To that end, he is following the same communications strategy as last month to catch Russian forces in error. The representative of the Ukrainian military from the southern region, Vladislav Nazaro, called for “silence”. “Don’t even report positive news about the actions of our units. Endurance and strength are the secret of our constant movement to victory”, these person in charge, quoted by El País. Paradoxically, Russia revealed the situation on the ground, namely the withdrawal of its troops and the advance of Ukrainian forces.

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The war in Ukraine has entered a dangerous phase of a terrible scenario at the nuclear level – Obozrevatel

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European Union (EU) diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday that the war in Ukraine caused by the Russian invasion is now “in a dangerous phase” due to a “terrible scenario” regarding Russian nuclear weapons.

The war continues, and the news from the battlefields is favorable for Ukraine. Ukraine is back on the offensive [mas] The war has entered a new phase, a phase that is undoubtedly dangerous because we are facing a frightening scenario that we must not turn a blind eye to,” said the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Speaking in a debate at the plenary session of the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, Josep Borrell spoke of “a scenario of conventional war involving a nuclear power, a nuclear power that is now retreating from the usual scenario and that threatens to use nuclear weapons.”

“This is certainly a worrying scenario in which we must show that our support for Ukraine is unwavering,” he stressed.

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Despite emphasizing that “Ukraine is advancing on three fronts, in the Donbass, […]in the southern center of Zaporizhia, advancing on Mariupol, and finally on Kherson,” the head of public diplomacy pointed out that Russia “still has a superiority in numbers, superiority in firepower,” so caution is needed.

Earlier today, EU member states reached a political agreement on new sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, the eighth package, due to come into effect on Thursday as a “strong response” to the annexation of Ukrainian territories.

Proposed by the European Commission last Wednesday, amid Russia’s “new escalation” with “fraudulent referendums”, partial mobilizations and the threat of nuclear weapons, a new package of EU sanctions includes a ceiling on Russian oil prices, new trade restrictions, depriving Russia of about 7 billion euros revenues, a ban on the export of more products to deprive the Kremlin of key technologies for the Russian military machine, and an update to the list of individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures. .

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In particular, the EU added pro-Russian officials in the Russian-occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to the list of individual sanctions.

In recent days, there have even been Russian attacks on the area of ​​the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, the largest in Europe, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of 300,000 Russian reservists.

“The position of the Russian army is very bad. Including because the Russian soldiers do not know what the war is for, and those 300,000 who will be taken from their native places to the front will understand even less, so the war can be won on the battlefield, but it must be won. in the realm of ideas. In addition to the war itself, there is another war – the war for the supremacy of values, ”said Josep Borrell.

And at a time when there are fears of interruptions in Russian gas supplies to the EU, the head of EU diplomacy stressed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “waits for cold weather, interruptions in gas supplies, high prices and low temperatures in order to undermine the European will and will continue to support Ukraine”.

“Here we need to ask the Europeans to understand what is at stake, because our support for Ukraine is not just a matter of generosity, our support for Ukraine must be unwavering, because the security of Ukraine is inextricably linked to our own security,” he added.

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Ukraine: war has entered ‘dangerous phase’, head of European diplomat warns

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“The war continues, and the news from the battlefield is favorable for Ukraine. Ukraine is back on the offensive [mas] The war has entered a new phase, a phase that is undoubtedly dangerous because we are facing a frightening scenario that we must not turn a blind eye to,” said the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Speaking in a debate at the plenary session of the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, Josep Borrell spoke of “a scenario of conventional war involving a nuclear power, a nuclear power that is now retreating from the usual scenario and that threatens to use nuclear weapons.”

“This is certainly a worrying scenario in which we must show that our support for Ukraine is unwavering,” he stressed.

Despite emphasizing that “Ukraine is advancing on three fronts, in the Donbass, […]in the southern center of Zaporizhia, advancing on Mariupol, and finally on Kherson,” the head of public diplomacy pointed out that Russia “still has a superiority in numbers, superiority in firepower,” so caution is needed.

Earlier today, EU member states reached a political agreement on new sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, the eighth package, due to come into effect on Thursday as a “strong response” to the annexation of Ukrainian territories.

Proposed by the European Commission last Wednesday, amid Russia’s “new escalation” with “fraudulent referendums”, partial mobilizations and the threat of nuclear weapons, a new package of EU sanctions includes a ceiling on Russian oil prices, new trade restrictions, depriving Russia of about 7 billion euros revenues, a ban on the export of more products to deprive the Kremlin of key technologies for the Russian military machine, and an update to the list of individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures. .

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In particular, the EU added to the list of individual sanctions pro-Russian officials in the Russian-occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions of Ukraine.

In recent days, there have even been Russian attacks on the area of ​​the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, the largest in Europe, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of 300,000 Russian reservists.

“The position of the Russian army is very bad. Including because the Russian soldiers do not know what the war is for, and those 300,000 who will be taken from their native places to the front will understand even less, so the war can be won on the battlefield, but it must be won. in the realm of ideas. In addition to the war itself, there is another war – the war for the supremacy of values, ”said Josep Borrell.

And at a time when there are fears of interruptions in Russian gas supplies to the EU, the head of EU diplomacy stressed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “waits for cold weather, interruptions in gas supplies, high prices and low temperatures in order to undermine the European will and will continue to support Ukraine”.

“Here we need to ask the Europeans to understand what is at stake, because our support for Ukraine is not just a matter of generosity, our support for Ukraine must be unwavering, because the security of Ukraine is inextricably linked to our own security,” he added.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th.

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