First Thing: Russia accuses Nato of ‘proxy war’ in Ukraine |

First Thing: Russia accuses Nato of ‘proxy war’ in Ukraine |

Good morning.

Russia’s foreign minister has accused Nato of fighting a proxy war by supplying military aid to Ukraine, as defence ministers gathered in Germany for US-hosted talks on supporting Ukraine through what one US general called a “very critical” few weeks.

Sergei Lavrov told Russian state media: “Nato, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war.”

He also warned that the risks of nuclear conflict were now “considerable” – a claim Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said showed Moscow had lost its “last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine”.

When asked about the importance of avoiding a third world war, Lavrov said: “I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it.”

  • Where are the talks happening? The US talks, hosted in Germany by the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, are expected to see more than 40 countries and the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, gather at Ramstein airbase south-west of Frankfurt.

  • What will be discussed? Gen Mark Milley, chair of the US joint chiefs of staff, said a key goal of the talks was to coordinate mounting security assistance to Kyiv that included heavy weaponry, such as howitzers, as well as armed drones and ammunition.

  • What else is happening? Here is what we know on day 62 of the invasion.

Elon Musk, world’s richest man, reaches deal to buy Twitter for $44bn

First Thing: Russia accuses Nato of ‘proxy war’ in Ukraine |
Elon Musk has described himself as a ‘free speech absolutist’. Photograph: Patrick Fallon/Reuters

Elon Musk has reached a $44bn deal to buy Twitter in a takeover that will give the world’s richest man control of a social network with more than 200 million users.

The sale will put the Tesla chief executive in charge of a company that he has frequently criticized, saying it has not lived up to its potential as a platform for “free speech”.

The deal yesterday comes after a dramatic few weeks of speculation about Twitter’s future, triggered by Musk’s emergence as the platform’s largest single shareholder on 4 April. He then declared a takeover bid on 14 April, offering to buy all Twitter’s shares for $54.20 each.

At first, Twitter’s board seemed opposed, enacting an anti-takeover measure known as a poison pill that could have made a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive. But its initial reluctance appeared to fade after Musk confirmed a funding package for the deal – including $21bn of his own money, alongside debt funding from Morgan Stanley and other financial institutions – and shareholders warmed to it.

  • What has Musk said? “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said. “Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and users to unlock it.”

  • What has Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, said? “Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important,” he said in a tweet.

Marjorie Taylor Greene texted Trump chief of staff urging martial law to overturn 2020 election

Marjorie Taylor Greene
Marjorie Taylor Greene: ‘The only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call Marshall [sic] law.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Days before Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, a text by the Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to the then-White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, appeared to press for Donald Trump to overturn his 2020 election defeat by invoking martial law, new messages show.

The message – one of more than 2,000 texts turned over by Meadows to the House select committee investigating the 6 January storming of the Capitol, and first reported by CNN – shows that some of Trump’s most ardent allies on Capitol Hill were pressing for Trump to return himself to office even after the Capitol attack.

“In our private chat with only Members several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call Marshall [sic] law,” Greene texted. “I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next.”

  • When was the message sent? The message about Trump potentially invoking martial law was sent on 17 January and came a month after the idea had been raised in a heated Oval Office meeting , where Trump considered ways to overturn the 2020 election.

In other news …

An image released by the Santa Fe county sheriff’s office shows Alec Baldwin being processed after the death of Halyna Hutchins.
An image released by the Santa Fe county sheriff’s office shows Alec Baldwin being processed after the death of Halyna Hutchins. Photograph: Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office/AFP/Getty Images
  • The actor Alec Baldwin is seen practising drawing his revolver on the set of the Rust movie in footage released by the Santa Fe county sheriff’s office. The department has released all files relating to its ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during filming.

  • Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce a new prime minister in the coming days as he turns his focus to legislative elections in June after his defeat of Marine Le Pen. Analysts suggest Macron may name Élisabeth Borne as prime minister, only the second woman in France to hold the post.

  • The Texas court of criminal appeals has issued a stay of execution for Melissa Lucio, the Mexican-American woman who was scheduled to be judicially killed within 48 hours, ordering a lower court to consider new evidence of her innocence in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah.

  • One of the most senior US officials in the Pacific has refused to rule out military action against Solomon Islands if it were to allow China to establish a military base there, saying that the security deal between the countries presented “potential regional security implications” for the US and other allies.

Stat of the day: Can a $100m clean-up operation save Mead, Nebraska, from putrid pesticide-laced waste?

Stan and Evelyn Keiser’s farm pond
Stan and Evelyn Keiser’s farm pond in Mead, Nebraska, has been heavily contaminated with toxic pesticides. Photograph: Brian Bell

It has been just over a year since state regulators stepped in to close down the AltEn LLC ethanol plant on the outskirts of Mead, Nebraska. The plant was found to be the source of huge quantities of toxic, pesticide-laced waste, which was accidentally spilled and intentionally spread throughout the area. A monumental cleanup is under way that could cost 100m or more, according to Bill Thorson, the village board chair. “The stench would be so bad your eyes would burn here in town,” Thorson said.

Don’t miss this: Bennifer and the couples who get back together

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in 2003.
Laying the groundwork … Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in 2003. Composite: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images/Guardian Design

It is the latest revival from the carefree early 00s to brave the fire-scorched hellscape of the 21st century, writes Zoe Williams. The relationship between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, AKA Bennifer, has roared back with a vengeance, with Lopez announcing their re-engagement this month, almost 19 years after they called off their wedding. They are not the only ones. Why do some pairings work better the second time around?

Climate check: too many new coal-fired plants planned for 1.5C climate goal, report concludes

Steam rises from cooling towers at the Neurath coal-fired power plant at Neurath, Germany.
‘There is simply no carbon budget left to be building new coal plants. We need to stop now.’ Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The number of coal-fired power plants under development around the world fell last year but far too much coal is still being burned and too many new coal-fired power plants are planned for the world to stay within safe temperature limits. The authors of the report concluded that “coal’s last gasp is not yet in sight”, despite countries agreeing at the Cop26 UN climate summit last November to a “phasedown” of coal.

Last Thing: trucker convoy driven out after being egged by kids in California

Broken egg
Beat it: about 20 drivers were pelted with eggs. Photograph: RapidEye/Getty Images

A convoy of trucks that had gathered outside a California lawmaker’s house over the weekend to protest against her support of an abortion rights bill was forced to leave the area after crossing paths with a group of young people armed with eggs. The people’s convoy had gathered outside lawmaker Buffy Wicks’s house to protest against her support of an abortion rights bill. The convoy, however, drew fierce opposition from neighbors, and children and local residents began throwing eggs to the cheers of the crowd.

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