Flash Briefing: Biden, Boris condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine; Sapref; state capture roots

  • Russian troops and tanks pushed into Ukraine and airstrikes hit the country’s capital and more than a dozen other cities early Thursday after President Vladimir Putin said he ordered a military operation to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine” and bring its leaders to trial. In a televised early-morning address, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, called on citizens to remain calm and said he had ordered the introduction of martial law across Ukraine and had spoken with President Biden about the attack. Biden called Mr. Putin’s move an unprovoked, unjustified attack in Ukraine, pledging further action against Russia. “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” he said in a statement. Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, tweeted that “President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction” and said the U.K. and its allies would “respond decisively.”
  • KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has announced that there are plans to turn the SA Petroleum Refineries (Sapref) refinery in Durban into a state-owned oil company. Zikalala was delivering his state of the province address on Thursday in Pietermaritzburg. Two weeks ago, Shell and BP announced a pause for an “indefinite period” of Sapref, not ruling out a possible restart or even a future sale. The Durban-based refinery established in 1963 is the largest crude oil refinery in the country and supplies 35% of the country’s fuel supply. While announcing that the decision would have no effect on full-time employees, organised labour warned of severe economic losses. 
  • A recent investigation by News24 has uncovered further information regarding the crime networks that captured and paralysed the State Security Agency between 2008 and 2018. The budget of the director-general of the agency grew by 621% during his first year as intelligence boss, according to documents submitted to the Zondo Commission. The increase in his budget allegedly enabled him to spend hundreds of millions of rands directly managing covert operations that included projects for the benefit of former president Jacob Zuma.
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