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Car rams Russian Embassy gate in Romania, driver dead

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A car carrying containers of flammable substances crashed into the gate of the Russian Embassy in the Romanian capital early Wednesday, bursting into flames and killing the driver, police said.

The sedan rammed into the gate at about 6 a.m. Wednesday but did not enter the Bucharest embassy compound.

Video of the aftermath showed the car engulfed in flames as security personnel ran through the area.

According to police, firefighters who arrived at the scene were able to put the fire out but the driver died at the scene.

The case prosecutor who arrived at the scene told reporters that several containers with flammable substances were discovered inside the car, which will be examined by forensics experts. The crash was under investigation and an autopsy will be carried out, the prosecutor, Bogdan Staicu, said.

In a statement after the incident, the Russian embassy expressed condolences to the family of the driver.

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“We must state with regret that whatever the motives of the driver,” the statement read. “There is no doubt that he committed this act under the influence of an explosion of anti-Russian hysteria in connection with a staged provocation in the city of Bucha.”

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The embassy said no employees were injured.

Russia’s ambassador to Romania, Valery Kuzmin, told a Russian state-owned television channel that the embassy in Bucharest has “repeatedly” received threats by email, according to the state news agency Tass. “The atmosphere that has been gradually forming here is very tense,” Kuzmin said.

Romania, which shares a long land border with Ukraine, has taken in more than 600,000 refugees since Russia invaded its neighbor.

Since the war started Feb. 24, protesters have gathered outside Russia’s embassy in the capital to call an end to the Russian aggression.

On Tuesday, Romania ordered 10 diplomats from the embassy expelled following a string of expulsions of Russian officials across the 27-nation European Union.

Romania’s Foreign Ministry said the actions of 10 embassy workers, who have been declared persona non grata, “contravene the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relationships.”

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The incident comes days after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Romania’s parliament Monday, when he labeled the slaying of civilians in the town of Bucha a “war crime” and called for tougher sanctions against Russia.

Before Zelenskyy’s address, Romania’s President of the Chamber of Deputies, Marcel Ciolacu, said that the “horrible images” that emerged after Russian troops withdrew from Bucha have “overwhelmed and revolted us all.”

BERLIN (AP) — The German government presented a major package of reforms Wednesday to boost the production of renewable power as part of its efforts to meet its climate goals and become independent of energy imports from hostile nations such as Russia.

The 600-page “Easter package” approved by Cabinet lays out ambitious goals for the expansion of offshore power and declares the installation of renewable energy to be of “overriding public interest.”

“In sum, this package will lead to a significant increase in renewable energy,” Economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters in Berlin.

But he acknowledged that Germany still has to make a huge effort to meet its ambitious climate goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2045, and will likely miss its short-term targets due to failures of the past.

“It’s the precondition, not the solution for everything,” said Habeck.

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He added that the war in Ukraine would also affect plans, with Germany using more home-mined coal to replace the gap caused by a reduction in Russian energy imports.

Still, Germany has already managed to significantly cut its purchase of Russian coal, oil and gas in recent months. Germany wants to stop importing oil and coal from Russia this year, and gas by mid-2024, said Habeck.

“You can see at what speed we are becoming independent of Russian energy,” he added.

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