Visit – The First Lady of the US, Jill Biden, will pay a visit to Romania and Slovakia, between May 5-9. The wife of President Joe Biden will meet on May 6 with American soldiers from the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base (southeastern Romania), after which she will head to Bucharest, where she will meet with Romanian government officials, with members of the US embassy, with humanitarian workers and teachers working with Ukrainian refugee children. According to a statement from the First Lady's office quoted by Reuters, on Sunday, marked in the United States as Mother's Day, Jill Biden will meet with Ukrainian mothers and children who have been forced to leave their homes because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Jill Biden's visit is the latest signal of support from high-ranking US officials for Ukraine and its neighbors that are helping the Ukrainian refugees. The number of Ukrainian refugees stands currently at about 5.5 million, according to UN figures.
Energy – The EU energy ministers are meeting urgently today as the bloc is looking into ways to respond to a request from Russian President Vladimir Putin that European countries pay for gas in the Russian currency. Last week Russia stopped gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after the two EU member states refused to pay for gas in rubles. According to news agencies, the European ministers will consider the gradual introduction of a ban on oil imports from Russia, and by the end of the year, the EU is to give up Russian oil permanently. No final decisions have been made in this regard and there may still be opposition from some member states.
Tennis – The Romanian tennis player Simona Halep meets, today, the American Cori Gauff in the Round of 16 of the WTA 1,000 tournament in Madrid, which has total prizes of 6,575,560 Euros. The Romanian tennis player has won both games played so far against Gauff. Simona Halep was a champion in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, and a finalist in another two editions.
Ukraine – In Ukraine, more than 100 civilians, women and children, have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Some of them are expected to arrive in Zaporozhe today, a city controlled by the Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said. The UN and the Red Cross were involved in the evacuation operation, which began on Saturday morning. However, hundreds of civilians are still in the plant's bunkers. Besides the civilians there are the last remaining Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol, a city largely destroyed in the two months of Russian attacks. According to the CNN, after the evacuation operation ended, the Russian forces resumed bombings on the plant. The bombing continued in the area of the Kharkov city, the second largest one in Ukraine, but in the same region the Ukrainian forces managed to recapture four villages. On the other hand, the Ukrainian Intelligence Service announced that it had neutralized a Russian investigation and sabotage team that allegedly tried to steal a Stinger rocket to shoot down a passenger plane over Russia or Belarus, in order to later blame the attack on Ukraine. The information was confirmed by an adviser to President Zelensky, who also added that a Russian spy had been discovered in the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army. Kyiv is the only source of this information in this respect so far.
Cyber attack – A cyber attack affected, last night, the website of the most important airport in Romania, Bucharest Otopeni. The site subsequently became operational again. The Special Telecommunications Service has blocked, in recent days, thousands of such attacks launched on the websites of some important institutions in Romania by the pro-Russian group Killnet. The group has also attacked websites of state institutions in neighboring Moldova and in EU and NATO countries. In response to the Russian hackers’ attacks, the Anonymous Romania group announced that it had attacked and blocked the site of the unified public procurement system in Russia, which had been out of order for two days.
Immigrants - The number of Ukrainian citizens who entered Romania on Sunday decreased by 27.6% compared to the previous day, according to a communiqué of the Border Police General Inspectorate. On Sunday, at national level, 107,432 people entered Romania through the border crossings, of whom 7,648 were Ukrainian citizens. Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, about 836 thousand Ukrainians have entered Romania, most of them transiting to other countries.
Statistics - In Romania, the unemployment rate stood at 5.7% in March, slightly higher than in the previous month, show data published on Monday by the National Institute of Statistics. The estimated number of unemployed for March was 475,000, up by 7,000 persons from February, but down from 11,000 persons as compared to March 2021. By gender, the unemployment rate for women was 0.1% higher than the rate for men (the respective values being 5.8% for women and 5.7% for men). The unemployment rate level among young people remains high, standing at 22%, according to INS. On the other hand, the 3-month ROBOR index, based on which the cost of consumer loans in lei with variable interest rate is calculated, rose on Monday to 5.01% per year, from 4.95% on Friday, as shown by data published by the National Bank of Romania. A higher level than that was recorded on April 3, 2013, when it stood at 5.03% per year. (LS)