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Ukrainian prime minister: Russia using Covid vaccine for influence

Russia is making an attempt to make use of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to realize political influence within the embattled territories of japanese Ukraine and different nations in Jap Europe, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal mentioned.

Shmyhal, who arrived in Brussels on Tuesday for three days of conferences with senior EU officers, informed POLITICO in an interview that the EU’s credibility hinged on with the ability to assist companion nations like Ukraine which are struggling to acquire vaccines on their very own.

“You will need to admit right here that the Russian Federation is making an attempt truly to impose its personal domestically produced vaccine particularly as a software for influencing a few of these areas, particularly these that aren’t presently managed by the Ukrainian authorities,” Shmyhal mentioned. “And that’s the case not solely right here but additionally in lots of Jap European nations.”

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He added, “To counteract this political propaganda, it could be vital for us to get a really sturdy sign that we’re getting assist from the European Union when it comes to vaccination, and the most effective sign and the strongest one in all probability could be if we began to get the vaccines from the person member states beneath the assist of the Fee.”

Shmyhal’s feedback echoed these of Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, who mentioned Tuesday that her nation wouldn’t be rolling out the Sputnik jab even when the European Medicines Company approves it, as a result of she has “little question” Russia’s efforts to promote the vaccine to Europe is “yet one more geopolitical sport.”

Ukraine is relying on the COVAX facility, which goals to ensure equitable entry to coronavirus vaccines and coverings worldwide, for at the least 8 million doses of vaccine, however that’s nonetheless far wanting the nation’s wants. On Monday, European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen promised that EU nations would assist Ukraine.

“The EU is on the facet of Ukraine, because it all the time has been, particularly within the troublesome moments of your current historical past. As a result of we’re all one European household,” von der Leyen mentioned in a video message to a discussion board on the pandemic being held in Kyiv.

However whereas von der Leyen has urged EU nations to donate vaccines, the EU’s personal vaccine rollout is transferring slower than anticipated after producers, together with AstraZeneca and BioNTech/Pfizer, introduced manufacturing shortfalls.

The EU final summer season issued €190 million in grants to Ukraine to assist combat the pandemic.

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