Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday that Kiev knew of plans by Russia to halt gas flows this winter to Europe, in comments which are likely to escalate the standoff between Moscow and the West. Russia halted gas supplies to Ukraine in June over a gas pricing dispute, but it has continued supplies to Europe, its largest market. "The situation in (Ukraine's) energy sector is difficult. We know of Russia's plans to block (gas) transit even to European Union countries this winter," he told a government meeting.
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has been placed under formal investigation by French magistrates for negligence in a political fraud affair dating from 2008 when she was finance minister, her lawyer said on Wednesday. Lawyer Yves Repiquet told Reuters that Lagarde, who this week was questioned by magistrates in Paris for a fourth time under her existing status as a witness in the long-running saga, said the step was unfounded. "We are appealing it," Repiquet said by telephone, adding that Lagarde, who was due to return to IMF headquarters in Washington later on Wednesday, had no plans to resign. In French law, magistrates place someone under formal investigation when they believe there are indications of wrongdoing, but that does not always lead to a trial.
Former prime minister Gordon Brown will set aside a long-running feud on Wednesday to make his first public appearance with Alistair Darling, the leader of the campaign to keep Scotland part of the United Kingdom. With three weeks to go before a historic independence referendum on September 18, the two Labour party politicians, who fell out while in government from 2007-10, will appear in Dundee to argue that Scotland would be better off staying in the UK. The joint appearance by two of Scotland's most high-profile politicians comes as postal voting gets underway and as the campaign ratchets up with independence supporters struggling to catch up with their rivals in the polls even though their leader, Alex Salmond, won a final TV debate on Monday. Anti-independence "Better Together" campaign director Blair McDougall urged postal voters to focus on the uncertainty that a vote for independence would bring with no clear decision on what currency would be used and warned of the possible impact on pensions and public services.
The skies over Gaza remained calm Wednesday as a long-term ceasefire took hold, ending the deadliest violence in a decade with Israel and Hamas both claiming 'victory' in the 50-day war. Millions in and around the war-torn enclave enjoyed a welcome night of peace during which there were no strikes on Gaza, nor Palestinian rockets fired at Israel, the Israeli army said. "Since the truce came into force, there has been no IDF activity in Gaza, and no rocket fire on Israel," a military spokeswoman said 12 hours after the guns on both sides fell silent. Both Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement, the de facto authority in Gaza, hailed the ceasefire as a victory.