The E.U. plans to ban Russian oil
As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, the E.U. announced plans yesterday to place an embargo on Russian oil, its biggest sacrifice yet to inflict pain on Russia and its economy. The measure would ban Russian crude oil imports to nearly all of the E.U. in the next six months, and refined oil products by the end of the year. It is expected to be approved within days.
The move is a landmark moment in the bloc’s support of Ukraine. The E.U. gets about 27 percent of its crude oil imports from Russia and a higher share of its oil products, paying billions of dollars a month that have in turn allowed Moscow to build up its military. The embargo represents a serious economic hardship that many E.U. countries had resisted.
According to diplomats familiar with the documents, Hungary and Slovakia would be given until December 2023 to ban Russian oil and more concessions could be made before the embargo was finalized. Those two countries, which have outsize dependence on such imports, make up a small fraction of the bloc’s Russian oil imports.
Background: The E.U. banned Russian coal last month, but has stopped short of banning Russian natural gas, which most E.U. countries rely on for heating and electricity. The bloc has laid out plans to gradually wean itself off it in the coming years.
Quotable: “Let us be clear, it will not be easy,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. “Some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it.”
Concern as Russia prepares for its Victory Day holiday
Western officials and Ukraine’s traumatized residents are looking with increased alarm to Russia’s Victory Day holiday on Monday — a celebration of the Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany. Some fear that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, may exploit the occasion to intensify attacks and marshal his citizenry against Ukraine.
With Russia facing an E.U. oil embargo, Putin may see the need to jolt the West with a new escalation, including expanding the scope of the conflict. Ben Wallace, the British defense secretary, predicted last week that Putin would use the occasion to declare mass mobilization or an all-out war.
Such a declaration would present a new challenge to war-battered Ukraine, as well as to Washington and its NATO allies as they try to counter Russian aggression without entangling themselves directly in the conflict. But the Kremlin has denied any such plans, and Russia analysts noted that announcing a military draft could provoke a domestic backlash.
Preparations: Russia is readying itself to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Army’s victory over the Nazis on May 9. Russian state media reported that warplanes were practicing flying in formations over Moscow’s Red Square, and Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency said that Russians were attempting to make the ruined city of Mariupol presentable as “the center of celebrations.”
In other news from the war in Ukraine:
Draft leak stirs doubt about Supreme Court
The revelation of a sweeping Supreme Court draft opinion that would undo nearly 50 years of legalized access to abortion nationwide has caused Americans across the political spectrum to express doubts about whether the justices are guided by the law, rather than by their political beliefs.
Scholars and political experts have regularly debated whether the court’s steady march to the right was sapping public faith in the court as fundamentally a legal forum, not least after a number of conservative justices professed their respect for precedent and their view of Roe v. Wade as settled law in confirmation hearings — before apparently voting to overturn it.
Even before the impending decision to revisit abortion rights reopened painful national divisions, public faith in the court had deteriorated sharply. A survey earlier this year found that 54 percent of U.S. adults had a favorable view of the Supreme Court, compared with 65 percent last year.
Analysis: Neil Siegel, a professor at Duke University, said that trust in the institution was damaged both by the disclosure of the opinion and by its mocking tone. “What the leak and the draft have in common is a disregard for the legal and public legitimacy of the court,” he said.
The Interpreter: In the latest installment of the column, Amanda Taub asks: Is seeking protection for abortion rights through the courts, rather than legislation, a riskier strategy than it once seemed?
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On the second day of the annual convention of the American Psychiatric Association in 1972, something extraordinary happened.
A man in a rubber mask and a curly fright wig stood and addressed the assembled psychiatrists. “I am a homosexual,” he began, in a 10-minute speech that would put his career at risk and send ripples through the legal, medical and justice systems. “I am a psychiatrist.”
Shining a light on Black aristocracy
For Glory Samjolly, a 24-year-old figurative artist and self-professed feminist based in London, provocation is the point. Her paintings are a retort to the dearth of Black nobles in historical European portraiture, she told the Times reporter Ruth La Ferla in an interview.
It has been and still is “such a rarity to find Afro-Europeans who aren’t slaves or shown as servants in the background of a painting, or featured as decoration,” said Samjolly, who studied fine arts at the University of the Arts London. “I asked myself, ‘Hang on, where is the rest of this work?’”
Hard-pressed to find it, she decided to create her own oil portraits of contemporary artists, business owners, writers and intellectuals — many of whom are her friends — in costumes and settings evocative of the European Masters. (She sells prints of her paintings through her website, and posts historical inspiration on her Instagram account, “Blackaristocratart.”)
“I want to bring to the forefront these characters who were footnotes in history,” she said of her posts, adding: “They are one way of reconstructing the way that Black and ethnic people view themselves.”